Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Life is good.

So Mat Snyder, being the thoughtful kind of guy he is, told Marjorie about the Latin competition. So now she knows. And I'm behind on my declensions because going away to JR. Pitch and not studying, now I have to study the feminine noun declensions, masculine, neuter, AND adjectives. Not to mention the vocabulary for the next two chapters. Craap. And now she knows. So now she'll be uber-motivated, and I gotta pull my socks up. Thanks Mat. (Just for the record, I annihilated him in Super Smash Bros. the other night. That'll teach him to tell Marjorie on me! bahaha. :P But just for the record, I didn't actually annihilate him. I played an awful game of Smash. Pikachu the Thunder-rat couldn't even dodge Donkey Kong. Both Donkey Kongs: there were two of them. oi.)

I think, at this moment, I am not as worried as I should be. Life has been very good to me, and my friendships with people are well. There's a lot of precarious situations going on right at this moment that maybe I SHOULD be stressed about, but it's not keeping me up at night. I've been too busy with school to be able to address anything properly (i.e. picking up some full-time job somewhere, the biggest concern right now is of a financial nature, but I do have a part-time job, and, God-willing, various amounts of money coming in the mail. I just don't know when. And I don't like to wait, either. There are others waiting on me.) but I, for some reason, am NOT stressed that much, though I'm becoming increasingly stressed as the weeks are ticking by. Part of it does excite me though (this is when I begin to sound insane) because, once again, I'm put in a situation of complete and utter reliance on the hope that things will turn out all right. It's exciting to be in the not-knowing. Is it okay for me, though, to be slightly annoyed/jealous at all the people around me who are secure? I don't think so. I have to work on that.

The other weekend was JR. Pitch. What an exhausting, but great time. I didn't realize they wanted me to ref dodgeball for five hours. I was shocked that I still had an audible voice at the end of everything. But it was fun, and wonderful to see good people once again. The way it was set up lacked a very obvious spiritual element, which I'm sure they all realized by the end of the weekend. Mat said that it caused him to pray even more for all the kids who went. Maybe then, it was a good thing, for what it was, if that makes sense. I did like it, especially in the way that if it did lack a spiritual element, I would certainly hope that, like Mat, it would motivate other leaders in the groups to challenge, pour into, and pray for the the kids throughout the weekend, and fulfill what the nature of the event was lacking.

Josiah Nahwegahbow got a ride down from me. It turns out he also highly enjoys Fantasia (one of my favorite movies) and Coldplay (best band ever). What a stellar combination. On the way down, I went to put gas in the car. Filled it. It cost $33 on the dot. I went in to pay, but stopped to pick up some engine oil first (I have to do this regularly for my car) and the guy, some kid who looked like he did NOT want to be there, told me I had paid for it already outside. (This is a story of one of those strange moments where things seem to work out impeccably well in your favor.)
"No I didn't."
"You sure?" He looked at me like I was real dumb.
"Yeah. Otherwise I wouldn't be in here."
"Well, did one of your friends pay for you?"
I looked outside, and Jo was washing my windshield, and the thought occurred to me that maybe one of the guys I was driving down (Jo, Tim Stanley and Dan Dorsy) had maybe paid for me while I wasn't looking, in a gesture of a nice surprise. So I went outside to ask them, but nobody had paid for me. Jo and I went in, and told the guy we had definitely not paid for the gas.
"It says you did." (I'm still surprised that he continued to refuse my money.)
"Well, in that case, it's your call. What do you want us to do?"
"Well, you can go..." he said.
So we left. Free gas. I got a free fill-up. What a miracle. I was so happy I called my dad.

Life is good. Not because things are going good, but simply because it just is by nature, regardless of circumstances.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hot-air balloons

I want to be a hot-air balloonist when I grow up.

When I was a kid, before I made the Purple World, my room had hot-air balloons on the walls. Once, I was running around barefoot down the street with my sister, we saw a hot-air balloon flying around, and I figured out where it was, which was only a block away from me! We raced down with our dirty feet in our t-shirts and shorts, and asked for a ride. And they gave us one. Oh yah.

I did some research. They have hot-air ballooning schools. You can hire someone to train you, which will get you a license faster, but it's more expensive. You have to clock in hours to be a balloonist. Or, you could work on a crew with a balloonist, and be trained that way, which is much cheaper, but will take longer, because of all the hours you gotta clock. Did I mention the crew? It takes a crew of 3-4 people to get a balloon in the air, excluding the pilot. You need people to help you inflate the thing, as well as to follow you as you fly, and negotiate and find landing spots for you when it's time to go down. Landing spots are usually farmer's fields. You have to be careful of the brave, stupid cows that don't get scared away by the large UFO landing in their field, and be careful of hitting wires, trees, etc. on the way down. There are three different ways of powering a balloon. There's one type of gas, which can cost up to $3000 per flight. I forget what it's called. There's also getting it to float by heating the air in the balloon, which costs however much propane it takes for the flame. There's a combination of the two methods. I don't know which method is best. The whole kit for a balloon, wicker basket, and fiery thingy is about $11,000 new. And it's better to buy new than used. The balloon itself is estimated at a certain number of hours before replacement, while the basket and fiery things have a lifetime guarantee.

I will do this when I am married, and have kids who are old enough to be in my crew. Because any kid would be the coolest kid in school if they know how to fly hot-air balloons. But I do want to do this. Because people dream about doing something they truly enjoy, and then for fear of lack of security, they settle for less, and I don't want to settle. I want to fly hot-air balloons.

Random story:
It turns out that Marjorie Hopkins, the dean of student life at EBC... is in my Latin Class at University of Waterloo. She's in my tutorial to be more exact, not the actual class.

Because of this, I want to get a higher mark than her. So, to her lack of awareness, we're in the middle of a competition. She has a head start. She read her textbooks and made flash cards. I bought my textbooks tonight (because my friend Charlie snuck me into the UW bookstore so I didn't have to wait in line for hours) so I haven't started yet. I also JUST finished my flash cards. But I did draw up colorful diagrams of present stems and personal endings, and plural and singular declensions. There will be more to come. They will decorate my room. And I will kick butt.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The best version of myself

One time, when I was in Ghana, we all went to a church service one Sunday underneath a grass canopy. I remember it so clearly, and when I write it, it's as though I'm back there again. Earlier that week, we had gone to town (Was it in Adidome?) where I bought a journal, and started writing in it. My very first entry was simply that I would be more aware of God's presence in my life. After writing that, we left for the service.

Never pray dangerous prayers. Or always pray dangerous prayers? I opt for the always, but it still manages to move me to fear and awe sometimes.

I have a strange memory, and I can easily be transported back by feeling something, or smelling something. This morning I woke up, convinced I was in my old room from last year at EBC, because the sheets felt the same, I was in the top bunk again, and my alarm clock sounded the same. I even walked out the door, completely confused about the location of the bathroom, and the exit, for that matter. When I think of Africa, I still feel sweat running down my legs, a permanent stickiness about everything I do, and a salty layer that felt natural, comfortable, and dirty, dusty feet. Sitting on the warm ceramic outside the guest house, reading a book, writing, thinking, or talking with someone. I honestly felt like the best version of myself.

That service, I slowed down myself, and made myself aware of my breathing. Many eastern religions talk about this practice, especially Hinduism with Yogic practices, and mantras, which makes me more reassured of it's value. Strangely enough, to me, Hinduism proves the existence and awesomeness of God. (but I'll save that for another post, or just ask me if you're curious.)And each breath was holy and sacred and intricate. I felt the way it filled me out, and it left me, and the taste of it, the smell of it. And it was all holy and sacred and intricate.

And I slowed down, and felt the way my hands felt when they were rubbing together, fingerprint upon fingerprint. The smoothness of my nails, the muscles and bones and the way they moved and worked together. My blood rushing, the wind moving the hairs on my arms, and the way my clothes felt against my body. And it was all so profoundly holy and sacred and intricate.

Not a single thing changed in the world. I remember later Matt Lockhart saying he was irritated at the way the grass was making his head itchy. People continued to sing, but I was suddenly aware of everything and how it was infused with... holiness. How better can I describe it? The ground I was standing on was special. My heart beating, and each pulse it made was a gift. And there was this rushing, this constant, in everything, and all over.

The most amazing thing, to me, was that all of the menial things that distract me, all the little sins and stupid things I worry about and think about, and the little lies and evil thoughts, all felt just meaningless, like fluff that just floated off of me, and I was completely FREE from that... muck.

Hinduism, Buddhism, and Catholicism talk about this. In Hinduism, the belief is that we are constantly spinning on a wheel of Samsara, in life, and muck and mire. We are incarnated into this wheel, and continue to spin on it, and through Dharma, Karma, good thoughts, good deeds, we are free and attain Moksha, a state of purity, or "heaven" essentially, where we are no longer reincarnated. Buddhism calls it "Enlightenment", or other school of Buddhism, such as Mahayana or Pureland Buddhism talk of a similar striving to a state of holiness. In Catholicism, the best way I have heard it described is by my favorite, Saint Teresa of Avila, who spoke of an "Interior Castle" - where the soul is akin to a castle, where our whole spiritual life is a journey towards the center, toward union with God. She spoke of different stages or mansions, and different spiritual challenges one faces on each journey as they grow closer to themselves, and closer to God. I like how the journey towards God is inner in her analogy, towards ourselves.

Maybe it was Moksha, or Enlightenment, or the Divine Union. If it is, then it is something that must constantly be worked at and striven towards. I asked if I could stay here forever, and it's certainly possible. Not a mountaintop experience as much as a way of being. There is so much I could say about that hour. I could talk forever about how I suddenly grew insanely in love with all of the people I was surrounded by, the strangers and the ones I already loved, with this deep feeling like I saw them all as holy, wonderful beings beyond my limited comprehension to even begin to figure out, and it moved me to awe. And I could talk about how the colors seemed to leak out of the grasses and the trees, and seemed to pulse and be saturated with something deep and wonderful. Or I could talk about how the very sound of sound itself felt holy, and I knew not how I was blessed to hear everything.

The service did end though, and people started talking about what's for lunch, and what we're doing today. I tried to keep breathing, and I tried to remember my heartbeat, but bit by bit, I floated back down, and the world quieted, and I was back to before, drifting once again in muck and mire. But for one thing: awareness. That it's attainable, there, and always there, whether I will see it again or not.

Every day since then, I have tried to go back, or be there once again. And I haven't been able to. This world is just too noisy and clogged with everything it feels like, to float away...