Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Reconciliation and Resolution

I met with one of my best friends the other day. I don’t say best because it’s one of those, kind of sappy, tell-each-other-everything-about-everything kind of connections. Oi. No thanks; I have Jill for that. But, simply, for this one, that there was a lot of determination on both ends to still be friends, and that many others who face similar tensions I don’t think would be able to remain friends afterward. Sometimes, it is as dramatic as a freaking soap opera. But we’ve come a long, long way, in short. And I’m very proud of that.
I’ve decided, that the best friends are the ones that have been in conflict with each other, and resolve it. When you know someone well enough that they annoy the crap out of you some days, but losing their friendship is out of the question. Or when all you need to do is look them in the eye and you know what they’re thinking, feeling, and then you understand what you can do to make them feel better, and act upon that, regardless of your own feelings and situation. This takes time, and a certain amount of affordability. It takes BALLS to get into conflict with friends, and I question if there are many out there who are able to try and have the vulnerability to be in a real relationship with someone, not simply a padded, fluffy connection, that never gets beyond simple interaction for the sake of being social. I’m talking blood and gore, here. Well, not actual blood and gore. Metaphorically speaking. So I guess I’m not talking blood and gore…?
Conflict, is always a two-way scenario, and involves both people at fault. It’s never quite completely solved until both people can admit that they are at fault, for their respective reasons. I think, for me, I too quickly admit my own fault, or tend to take the blame too fast, without allowing the other person/people involved to recognize that they have done something wrong, as well. And I think I do this as a reaction against the instinct that I, and many people have, to point the finger, and shove that blame on somebody, anybody else but themselves, so that they can feel some quiet relief in the chaos, that at least it wasn’t their fault, but that moron over there who’s completely to blame. But the thing is, that moron over there is thinking the exact same thing about you. Do you see what I am saying?
There’s a lot more to this. With good, blood-and-gore connections, you build up grudges against each other. It’s inevitable. Your amygdale; your emotional memory, which has a great, and accurate, but sometimes irrational memory, can often store up all kinds of negative connotations against people, and then you can instinctively react negatively against someone, and potentially never grow because you’ll be stuck in an eternal conflict where you don’t understand why you’re permanently rubbing against each other. Example: The other day, when this friend of mine said, “I need to have a discussion with you, Jessie. Would you like to go out for bubble tea?” I immediately reacted in my head, wondering, “What did I do now? Am I going to be reprimanded for some unconscious behavior that I’m doing that’s supposedly “unhealthy”? Are we going out for bubble tea, because I like bubble tea, and then I am going to find out something horrible, with some na├»ve hope that that bubble tea would make it all better?” and I asked, “Should I be worried about this?” And even though the answer was no, I still couldn’t help but be worried. And in the end, it was none of the conclusions that I had jumped to in my head; my amygdale, like it often does, lied to me. And that’s just the nature of it, and something that we all need to be aware of, especially when we are in community with others, and our friendships transcend mere interaction.
Is it worth it? Is it worth having this sort of vulnerability, and being with people that you hate, and love at the same time, and then, you wind up spending hours talking about one little instance, and the reasons behind that behavior, and what needs to be rectified in the future. Is it worth it when they hurt you? When you make each other cry? When they break your heart?
A lot of people I know would say no. Or they have said no to me, asking, why would I even bother? That he, or she, or whoever hurt you, isn’t worth your time. “You don’t deserve to be treated like that!” or, in the words of my (rather vocal) younger sister (this is not directed towards anyone, but I have heard her say this just in general), “f***ing douche-bag!”
But how on earth are you ever going to be capable of spending the rest of your life with someone, when if they hurt you, or someone close to you, you immediately take sides, and respond by calling the other an f***ing douche-bag? What is a grudge going to accomplish, but a broken friendship, that will only leave you more hurt, and more defensive, and eventually, more alone?
Respond with love. My friend apologized to me for different things, and, looking back upon the discussion now, I could have responded in all kinds of ways, or “asserted my rights”, or explained in very blatant detail what my friend should be sorry for, and that I hope that there was regret, or whatever. But at that moment, I forgot about anything else, except for, “I forgive you. I’ve gotten into the habit of forgiving you on a fairly regular basis.” And that’s the only response that I want to give, or feel needs to be given. I was just relieved, and very impressed, that this person had taken the initiative to talk to me, without me needing to bring up anything. I think I should have listened more to my friend. This person was apologizing, and all of this stuff, and I was only concerned for how I could help in the future, rather than just listening to the apology, that took a lot of guts to say, I can imagine.
It’s certainly hard to respond with love, but in the end, you are still friends, correct? And guaranteed, much better as a result. What is freeing, at least, to me, is knowing that I don’t need to be perfect, and that all of the people around me aren’t perfect, so that sometimes, crap will happen, and it’ll be exciting to solve it, to open yourself up to that other person, and allow them to open up to you, and grow together. We’re not meant to be alone, nor are we meant to hate like that. We’re meant to love, as painful and absolutely insane as it sometimes can be. And we love, because they don’t deserve that love, and we don’t deserve that love either, and because we don’t deserve it, we should give it out more, because it was first given to us, as undeserving as we are.

Monday, April 27, 2009

My younger sister

Hopefully, anybody who knows my younger sister Emily will find this funny:

Today, my sister and I were watching a movie, when suddenly; she turned to me and said,
“Jess-man, you have to promise me something.”
“Okay, what’s up?”
“When you get married, you had better not buy a crappy dress from the thrift store.”
I didn’t know how to reply to that, nor did I know where this was coming from, so I didn’t say anything.
“Like, you actually have to spend money on your dress. Promise me.”
Again, I couldn’t think of how to reply to this, so I simply said,
To which she continued,
“Like, I don’t care where you get married. Like, spend a lot of money on the dress, and the rest of the wedding can be crappy. You could get married in a freaking swamp. But you have to look pretty.”
“Like, seriously. I don’t care where you get married. Like if you get married in some ugly place, like Quebec or something. With a French Priest! Man, that would be funny. Jess-man, you better get married in Quebec. Notre Padre…” And here she tried to make the Sign of the Cross, in French. But she forgot how. So she tried to say the Our Father prayer, in French.
“Notre Pere… Uh… something, something, something. Amen. Is that how it goes?”
“Yes. Yes it does.” I replied.

Later on, she said that she was afraid I was going to wear some flipping, whacked-out, wedding hippy dress made from wheat. (Her exact words)
“Jess-man, if I’m going to be your maid of honor, I better not be wearing some hippy whacked-out dress made of wheat.” (Apparently I have a maid of honor now.)
She repeated the word “wheat” a few more times, then as I was typing this up, she came into my room, and said, “I’m serious y’all! Wheat!”

Thursday, April 23, 2009

100 Things

I hung out with Emmalee Grove today, and it was quite a good day! I really enjoy hanging out with people, and I suppose, seeing a bit what their soul is like. Emmalee has a beautiful soul, I think. :) We were talking about 100 things we'd like to do before we die, and well, I have all kinds in my head, and I'm sure I've written it down somewhere, but never formally, and never all together. So. Let's give this a shot. This may be long. There is no order, or preference to any of them.

1. Fly a plane
2. Go to all of the world's celebrations (i.e. I went to Easter at the Vatican, and New Year's Eve in New York, I want to go to the Olympics)
3. Learn how to ride a motorcycle
4. Build my own house. I realized, that every single member of my family did this, so maybe, it's my ancestral instinct to do the same? I will build a nice, little cabin, I think. Or a yurt. It's easy.
5. Get a good bookshelf. I have never had a real nice one, and I kept all my books in drawers in my room
6. Write a story, and tell the world
7. Sleep in the Royal York Hotel (Toronto), Chateau Frontenac (Quebec City), and Banff Springs (Banff, Alberta)
8. Learn to play the bassoon
9. Build a hammered dulcimer, and learn to play it
10. Learn how to play La Campanella by Franz Liszt (After Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2)
11. Go surfing
12. Play piano with Coldplay (I can dream, can't I?)
13. Travel to South America
14. Do something really, really, worthwhile
15. Do something self-sacrificial
16. Give birth. It scares the crap out of me, but I think it'd be so neat to hold a baby and think, "We made this."
17. I'd like to adopt. It'd be neat to be able to help someone enough to give them a chance at a very good life
18. Help someone get back on their feet
19. Live in community with people. It's messy, nuts, and misunderstood, but vitally necessary.
20. Learn how to farm, and be a farmer
21. When I do that, follow the 100-mile diet.
22. Go skydiving
23. Sail across the ocean
24. Go on a pilgrimage - there's one in Spain, to St. James' burial spot? I forget what it's called.
25. Learn how to cook, and cook well.
26. Get into a system where I wake up early everyday, and go on walks everyday
27. See a sunrise
28. Be homeless for an extended period of time, so I can see the other side of the picture.
29. Get my Phd. Maybe.
30. Play, or even conduct, with a symphony orchestra
31. Get my performer's ARCT. Someday...
32. I don't really know how to word this. See unique animals? Like, I've fed a baboon, and kissed a crocodile. I want to pet a kangaroo, and see a koala
33. Live out of a pickup truck/trailer for a while
34. Meet the Pope. Yes, it can happen. Technically, I already have, but I was with a million people when I did so. No time for conversation in those crowds.
35. Teach. But not in a school setting.
36. See a penguin, that's not in a zoo setting (I agreed with Emmalee on this idea!)
37. Rob a bank. Just to prove that I'm clever enough to be able to. I will give the money back though.
38. Ride on the world's largest Ferris wheels
39. Go to India. It'd be neat to go with Lynda and Denis
40. You know how cities are famous for a certain type of food? Like, New York Cheesecake, Philly Cheesesteak, Florentine Steak? I want to try all the famous foods cities have to offer. I've tried those three, from their respective cities. :)
41. Go for as long as I possibly can without seeing a naked man. But I would like to see one someday. That sounds so weird...
42. I do want to go to the moon. Whenever I'm blue, the thought of doing this makes me feel better.
43. Pet a walrus!
44. Pet an elephant!
45. Go to England
46. Go to Australia. My dad went, twice, and promised to take me next time... but didn't... so one time, I will just go!
47. Go to Thailand. Maybe Corrie Kessler will go with me.
48. I want to go to Greenland. I'm not sure why, though.
49. It'd be nice if all the churches could be united... in my lifetime. :)
50. Die for something worthwhile.
51. Compose the music for a movie. This may be hard, because I rarely, if ever, compose music.
52. Play electric organ at an NHL Hockey Game! Matt Lockhart would be proud. :)
53. See a sunrise. I've never seen one of those.
54. See the fjords of Norway. I hear they're pretty
55. Be knocked unconscious. Don't get any ideas...
56. Get really, really good at kicking someone. It just seems like a useful skill to have.
57. Learn another language. If it's French, then I can tourguide in Ottawa.
58. Busk in Ottawa, Quebec City, and Halifax. Those are good busking towns.
59. Use my energy to make others happy. Always.
60. Really focus on radiating positive-ness to people.
61. Break a bone
62. Go skiing down a big, empty mountaintop
63. Stand at the top of a mountain, after a big, long, and sweaty climb, and see the sun overtop the clouds
64. Go back to Africa, and spend a great deal of time there. Especially in Ghana, in Adidome. :)
65. Wear a big, poofy dress. And then run around and play soccer in it.
66. Reach the seventh mansion (For more information read The Interior Castle, by St. Teresa of Avila)
67. Oh! that pilgrimage? It's called Santiago de Compostela. I think. But I also want to do one in Jerusalem.
68. Sneak up onto the stage at a big concert and start playing a terrific piece on the piano. After the show is over.
69. Learn jazz piano. And learn it well.
70. Learn ragtime. That'd be fun.
71. Learn how to swing dance, and then I can be thrown up, and caught! It'd be fun.
72. Do rock climbing with actual safety equipment. I just like to plow ahead, and climb anything and everything. I love climbing!
73. Go white-water rafting
74. Surprise a complete stranger by doing a tremendous, memorable favour for them.
75. Skinny-dip. In December. Wait. I already, kinda did that...
76. Drive on the Autobahn. Driving in foreign countries scares me. This is why I should do it. It also scares other people. But for other reasons.
77. Learn how to shoot arrows, and get impeccable aim
78. Invent something useful, not like an infomercial, "pretty much useless addition of something"-otron, 3000. But something good.
79. Wax my armpits. I say this, because I have already waxed my legs.
80. Poop in interesting locations, so I can tell funny stories about this. But not in mean locations, like people's rooms, just like... off a cliff, or something.
81. Have a good story to tell, everyday.
82. Donate blood. I don't know what my bloodtype even is, yet.
83. Learn how to fix cars. Or marry a man who may know a thing or two about car maintenance, and would think that my driving is exciting.
85. Learn enough about math so that if my kids are having math trouble, I would be able to help them in some way. Or marry a man who got higher than a 65 in grade 11 math. This is not a pre-requisite. Neither is the car thing.
86. Live in such a way, so that when I die, I can look back and say that I made a contribution to the world, and people's lives.
87. Live out God's will. He has good ideas.
88. Have a green house. I love the smell of earth. :)
89. Get a photograph of mine published in National Geographic.
90. Disguise myself as a man, and go to one of those "men" conferences, or guy talks they always have at youth conferences. The girls talks are usually just... boring!
91. Score a really wicked goal in a soccer game
92. Be able to do a terrific jump in figure skating, and like, twirl around in mid-air multiple times. I'm terrible at figure skating, so this could be awesome.
93. Go to South America, and canoe down one of those rivers that has lots of piranhas in it, and an awesome waterfall. Then go swimming in it, but not the piranha part.
94. Plant a tree, and watch it grow over the years into a big tree
95. Break a bone. I've never done that before.
96. Do a 30-day silent retreat at the Ignatius Center in Guelph
97. Write a weekly column in a newspaper
98. Carve a new path, and do something that nobody else has done before.
99. But not go alone on that one. I'd love to take others with me, and go with them on their paths.
100. hmm. I don't think I have a #100. Oh well! If I get one, I will stick it on here. :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Yellow (Or Good/Bad Vibes)

We were both silent, each waiting for the other to speak, but speech is not the only means of understanding between two souls. It is not the syllables that come from the lips and tongues that bring hearts together.There is something greater and purer than what the mouth utters. Silence illuminates our souls, whispers to our hearts, and brings them together. Silence separates us from ourselves, makes us sail the firmament of spirit, and brings us closer to Heaven; it makes us feel that bodies are no more than prisons and that this world is only a place of exile.
— Kahlil Gibran, The Broken Wings

I like to think that we're all connected; that there is a reason that I met you, and that there is a reason that we know each other, and that our relationships all have a greater and deeper purpose and drive behind them, than just a mere instinctual need to commune with one another. But that God ordains our relationships, and that time, life, and nature itself are conspiring to bring us together...

Fruity, to some, I know. But, it certainly gives a joy to life, color and hope that there is more than what meets the eye. This is one of the ways I find God. Maybe it's a gift. When I meet someone, I get what I have come to call "good vibes" and "bad vibes" about them. Immediately from the moment the words are spoken or our eyes meet. Surprisingly, these tend to say a great deal about the course of our friendship, and where it is going to lead. When good things or bad things happen, I usually look back at our first impression and think, "Did I get a good vibe? Or a bad vibe?" and that can usually explain a lot about why something has happened, or why I should have expected this, or not. It's interesting. The most noteworthy vibes I've had about people are people who find themselves to be close friends of mine, or interesting stories to tell. Either way, we have profound impacts upon each others lives.

Do other people get this? I also think of people in terms of colours. I don't know how to describe it, but everyone has a certain colour around them. Sometimes I run out of words for what colors they are. When people grow and change, their colours change too; become more vibrant, more beautiful, more joy-filled or connected to something that, is as it ought to be, to put it best. I don't know how to describe it. I sound like a hippy. :P But that's okay.

I use this to discern relationships, friendships, and how people connect, and work together. You should ask me what colour I think you are. But you could probably figure it out yourself. I didn't know what my colour was for the longest time though; but I know what it is now.

Yellow. :)

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Everyone likes to ask the generic questions depending on where you are in stage of life. (i.e. "How's it going? What post-secondary institution are you going to? What do you want to be?" etc. I'm also guilty of this crime. People like to be measured by what they DO. Not who they are.) But anyway, the big question now, is... what are you doing this summer

And well... I don't know. All plans fell through.

At first, I wasn't too scared. But now I feel like I'm going to be kicked in the testicles. (Minus the fact that I don't have testicles. But I'm sure it's pretty painful. I've never even seen a naked man before, I've come very close though, but that's beside the point.) Like, this sick, foreboding feeling that I'm not sure what to do with that's taking residence in the pit of my stomach.

But, there's a few things I'd like to do that I suddenly now am able to do:

* Write down a really good story (It's actually why I went to University, so I could get ideas for this story)
* Using the soundboard of my old upright piano, build a hammered dulcimer. It'd be cool if my dad helped me with this.
* Learn Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2 by Franz Liszt and surprise my piano teacher. I miss him sorely
* Paint my room
* Go to Mass with Liam Hill
* Play piano for weddings (This'll be my income)
* Hike parts of the Bruce Trail
* Visit Dave Young at his yurt.
* Bike to Walkerton and get a smoothie from the White Rose
* Go to the Drive-in with Kelsey Gass (because she's never been) and other good friends.
* Continue to hunt for Thin Places. There are two in Hanover.
* Go to a crazy hippie event with Becca Bishop. I'm scared of the naked men, however.
* Learn jazz piano and play with Lady Aubergine
* Take Elysha and Kathleen to the White Rose.
* Crazy road trip with good friends, to relive last year's tradition.
* Spend a week in solitude.

And whatever God wants me to do. This could be very good; I feel like I'm on the fringe of something. But it's still kind of scary. Maybe I could do something very big, very selfless, and very worthwhile this summer. I hope so. In the Bible, there's this neat verse in Hebrews 11:1 that goes, "Faith is being sure of what you don't know; certain of what you don't see." And as terrifying as it feels, I've been taken care of before, and I think it's going to be fine, and that something big will happen. I can't wait to see what.

Oh! Funny story. In Africa, Mat and I were paired up to do a talk at the Church Planter's Convention about that exact verse in Hebrews. Well, the topic was "The Nature of Living Faith." And we had a week. I got all my stuff together, talked to Pastor Jacob Hiagbe many times, and felt good about my part. Every time I asked Mat about his part, he had nothing at all, and he would say something about "needing exactly eight hours to prepare" or something like that. The night before, he still had nothing. So I said that I will stay up with him until he finished. But it got late out, and he got tired, and started making comments about kicking me in the face, and then started folding underwear. So we got nowhere. The next morning, on the van ride down to Accra, suddenly, he looked at me, and was like, "Hey Jessie. I think I get it." And he had this fantastic realization about faith, and about Hebrews 11:1. Right on time. It was amusing in a frustrating way on my part, but nonetheless, pretty darn cool.

Okay. I go to bed now.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Strange Moment

I remember one time, when I was in Africa, my parents phoned me on our cellphone while I was driving through a village. They asked me where I was, what I was doing, and as I looked out the window at the city we were driving through: everything is covered in a fine layer of rust-coloured dust, and people are selling all kinds of oddities out of tin buildings the size of closets with painted slogans such as "God is with us - Hair Salon", or "Jesus Saves - Car Parts". People are walking around in colourful clothing, carrying babies on their backs, random things on their heads, and knocking on car windows trying to sell people things. We're crowded in the most insane, illegal traffic I may ever see in my life, with big vans just full to bursting with people. Random things on the ground next to the road under trees: mattresses, tires, bed frames.

And I imagined my parents in the kitchen at home, talking on the phone to me, in such a different world, and I felt very strange, and in a way, lonely, because I knew if I attempted to describe where I was, sitting in the van next to people I loved deeper than they knew, looking out the window at the world that beheld me outside, that they wouldn't be able to understand it at all.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009





And I'm saying this... in the midst of writing an essay.

But it doesn't feel like an essay. It just feels like... I don't even know what. Like I'm up to my knees in mud, which would actually be quite a fun activity, if it was on a warm day. But this time, it feels like a cold day, and I'm pushing rocks, and getting nowhere, and I'm trying to keep a prom dress clean, but I can't, because I'm in mud, of course. AGH.

Far too often in my life, I feel this sort of deep, dissatisfaction in my soul. Like a hunger, that I'm constantly striving for. I always feel it, when I listen to music, and run really fast when I'm outside, or when I open up the curtains and let the sunshine flood in to a dank musty room. Whenever I play piano, or have a really good dream, or get a good hug, or of course, whenever I write.

It feels like each of these times, or all of my life, this stuff is GOOD, but I'm constantly wondering about the better. In simplicity, I suppose... I want heaven.