Monthly Archives: January 2010

today: it’s a zoo

“Life is a zoo in a jungle.”
-Peter De Vries

Now that my job circumstances shifted gears, so has my chronic insomnia. Four years, maybe more, of many, many sleepless nights have transitioned into sleeping every night now that I work as photographer. I think a good part of my new-found sleeping abilities (which feel like a superpower to my was-tired/exhausted-for-many-years self) are the result of a slower pace and a good deal of time with friends and family and God. It’s good. As the pace of the year picks up, my feet will be ready to run hard, restored.

And life remains a crazy zoo of stories and laughter, of words and tears. I am excited about what happens next and am learning to displace fear with hope and boredom with wonder. Those of you who have journeyed with me these last few months and years, thank you, thank you, thank you. I don’t know what will spill onto the pages not yet written, but the element of surprise is so often- so, so, so often- a conduit of undeserved grace. And we, God’s children? We get to live. Amazed.

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tonight: it all fits together

just so
just so you know
you know
with a little grace
(with a little e l a s t i c i t y )
it all fits together
it all fits together magnificently
(the way the tide blankets beach
or
fingers grip another’s hand
the way laughter invokes joy
or
stillness marks the land)
you know it all fits together
you know just so
just so
(beautifully. and colorfully.)

i do see. help my eyes to see.

today: and so perspective goes

Life is a train of moods like a string of beads; and as we pass through them they prove to be many colored lenses, which paint the world their own hue, and each shows us only what lies in its own focus.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

images take at The Modern in Fort Worth

Sometimes I cannot see an inch in front of my face for want of so many things, and perhaps it is the human plight to be fixated on that which we do not have rather than thankful for that which we do. I am classically conflicted and unoriginal with my reasoning in that. Parts of the world (ourselves included) are very, very broken. And yet there are moments when everything comes into focus and all is seen to be well and good. If we are works in progress, may the progress be classified as redemption. For this I hunger. For this I live.

And we are all in this together.

Sometimes I take a step back and know that this universe is more than meets the eye. Peace and hope and love and justice resonate throughout humanity at our best, and the beauty we see on a good day reminds us that we were made to run hard after life, full life. Something more is possible. My faith wavers between utter trust and rabid doubt, and I don’t think God is surprised or upset. He loves me and you and all of us. For this I hunger. For this I live.

And we are all in this together. May we run hard after after life, full life.

tonight: possibility

faces pull towards me like the sea to the moon
-Andrew Osenga, Bombay Rain

how I remember:

possibility looks like
the night before we rest assured
tomorrow we will go for sure
then
(two and a half decades ago)
my dad shaking a child’s skinny shoulders
and a groggy-eyed girl never quite awakens
so he shrugs his own shoulders, lifts her up, carries her down the hall
and now back asleep in the station wagon seat,
i fold into the now closed door as my sister folds into me
and we sleep until the sun comes up
in the way urchins do, it’s too cold then too hot
no one is comfortable and the engine ever rumbles
we wake and fight about who’s in whose seat
mom reads to us from “james and the giant peach”
we stop, more often than dad would like, to pee

are we there yet?
Are We There Yet?
ARE WE THERE YET?
(we will never arrive; our parents, did they have something to hide?
maybe, after these hours in the car… ALL THESE HOURS IN THE CAR…
maybe they lied)

a day or so later dad’s nerves now shaking
he unpacks our things as we unfold our limbs
possibility is a child now awakened
as she stares wide-eyed at the tide coming in
dad had said and mom had promised
we peel off our shoes; we strip of our socks
these sandy bare feet
the drive? oh so worth it
we arrive, we laugh, here is the beach

(and a story from two and a half decades ago
helps me grip some things to know
impossible though it seems
everywhere, everywhere, possibility)

today: and the restlessness loses hold

This is our decision, to live fast and die young
We’ve got the vision, now let’s have some fun

-MGMT, Time to Pretend

January 2010, the month of West Coast cities paired with rain. Lots and lots of rain. And friends. Really amazing friends. I’ve been in Vancouver and San Francisco so far and will head to SeattIe and then north at the end of the month. I spent the better part of today in airports and on planes trying to get home from San Francisco, where I met up with some Aussie friends for a brief visit. They are vacationing in California; I had the time and availability of a ticket at the right price. The stars aligned. We met up. I decided to make the trip Saturday night and left on Sunday.

This morning wasn’t ideal for travel out of San Francisco. High winds and heavy rain made a mess of things, and my trip home took a bit longer than anticipated. My journal acquired a lot of scribbles about life and photography and relationships and why all this crazy is my life. I found myself thankful as my i-pod hummed in my ears and words streamed from my pen. I had MGMT on, and it was great background music, but as Time to Pretend played (on repeat, because it’s just that catchy), I fell into the trap of lyric analysis. It made me a bit depressed. It might be catchy, but the message it peddles is that either a life of escapism or a life of less-thans is all that there is in growing up.

Surely there is more.

If the past few weeks of non-stop hanging out with people who I really, really love have reminded of and taught me anything, it is this: reality that is risked on people is the realest real. I think there is a way to live that is fully alive and fully hopeful, creative, intentional and free. Our culture doesn’t give enough credit, oftentimes, to the beauty of fully investing in the people in our lives. We inhale entertainment and amusement customized on a variety of screens (computer, television, movie, i-phone), and it fills us right up. But it is junk food, and we will ever be consuming while remaining ever hungry if our stuff defines the fullest parts of reality. This happens to me all the time.

I think the good thing about the past few weeks has been not the crazy travel stories or adventures I have acquired. It has been the conversations and the laughter and the hugs and the perspective that shifts when you make an effort to be with someone because you love them. I find myself wanting to live in that direction, whether here or there. And the Creator is seen through that kind of life. I love that.

It is full. It is real. It is art.

today: a little something

Here’s a little something I know: people are worth it. So tomorrow I am going to get on an airplane and go to California so I can see an amazing friend from Down Under. Spontaneously, which makes me wide-eyed like a small child, and thankfully, aware that this, my life, is full and blessed.

today: forego the parable (running home)

…And in the ear of every anarchist that sleeps but doesn’t dream
we must sing, we must sing, we must sing…

-Conor Oberst/ Bright Eyes, At the Bottom of Everything

(this one courtesy of the best camera and Adam)

My vacation was supposed to be about snowboarding (and reconnecting with friends). Instead it was about connecting with friends (and a little bit of snowboarding and snowshoeing and city exploring). And I wouldn’t have it any other way. First of all, I reconnected with these cats:

I hadn’t seen them in a few years, and after seeing Stace in the spring at a photography event, a visit seemed in order. Learning to snowboard has been on my list of goals for the past few years, and they live in the mountains, so the trip was multi-faceted. I could say a lot of things about Stace and her hubby Chad, but the bottom line is this: they know how to be with people, how to invest in people, how to see people and how to love well. They are relational rock stars. I brought my buddy Adam along for the trip, and last night he said he hoped they never change in the way they do life.

I quite agree.

They love each other. They live creatively. They know God. And they hold taut the tension created by hope in a world that is, well, messy. I need people like Chad and Stace in my life, because they remind me that it is possible to live a crazy good outside-the-box story-that-is-a-journey. They remind me of this without sidestepping the harder parts of reality. This does not make circumstances inconsequential. They live faith that allows joy regardless of circumstance. So we laugh. A lot. And we talk and dream. This is how it has always been. Chad and Stace have believed in me and talked me off ledges and watched me come and go. When I am in their home, I do not doubt I am loved.

I hope they know how much I love them too.

Here is something else about Chad and Stace: I am (get to be!) Auntie Erin to their two little rock stars.

They are night and day, a sensitive older brother and his exuberant sidekick. One is drawing me pictures to hang on my wall while the other is scheming a plan to sell his art projects on etsy. I have known these boys since they were born and loved them from the moment their tiny frames rested in my arms. Seeing them at seven and five blew me out of the water, because here are two little boys full of beauty and wonder and life. They so reflect their mom and dad. And they are stinky, silly world-changers-in-process.

Taking a new friend along to visit old ones always feels a little risky to me, because I live aware that I am off the charts blessed with incredible people in my life, and if you are going to meet them, you better get it. I think Adam got it, and we (who have a laundry list of things to create and do) created some incredible memories alongside of and within my heart getting refueled by the mountains and city and the Choms and God…

If this is the way 2010 has begun, I can only anticipate. Home, for me, has always been about people rather than place. And my family makes Texas home for sure, but Home also boom-a-rangs among those who color my life and remind me that there is a way to live that is something like this:

May this be the way it is always, a life aware of the kindness of God that is the people He’s put in my life. When I lose perspective, they spin me back to believing all that is good and right in the world time and again. I find my feet firmly planted and at home. Here (and there).

I hope this is true for you, too.

(P.S. Thank you Chad and Stace and Jadyn and Caleb and Adam for giving me the past couple of weeks. They were exactly what I needed.)