Monday, April 15, 2013


Sometimes I stand and watch as my dreams die,
These dreams that I have nurtured since their birth,
These hopes I watched grow dim but then revive,
These dreams I’ve feared for often, watched with care.
I see them stabbed, quite suddenly. It’s odd:
It makes no noise, the knife, and I feel numb.
The stabber sometimes stabs with smiling face,
Sometimes in tears. There’s little difference.
The knife’s pulled out. I hope the dream will live.
A hard time now, but soon enough, we’ll fly.
My dream and I shall fly. No knife stops us.
Still fear lurks under all my optimism,
Still hope trusts underneath the most real fears.
My mind says it will take a miracle.
My heart takes that to mean all shall be well.
Miracles can happen. I wait to see one.
And then, just then, the knife goes in again,
And this time I can feel the pain. I scream,
But cannot even hear myself. All noise
Has faded out and I’m left there to cry,
Standing still in a vast expanse of white,
Watching my dream lie on the ground and writhe,
While stabbed, again, again, again, again.
I cannot move, I don’t know what to feel.
It hurts, it hurts! But dreams are not my life.
I’ve hope without them. Truth outshines my dreams.
I feel a fool for hoping, yet I can’t
Just yet give up the hope, cannot let go.
I’d promised in my heart, unwittingly,
That this would be, and till it dies I’ll try
To make it live. I want to run and fight,
To somehow bring it back, to stop the knife,
To heal the wound, make everything all right.
But I am helpless, so I stand and stare,
Half hope, half death, half agony, half numb.
Until it dies. Until it dies. And then,
The white expanse abruptly drops away,
At one last stab that finishes the job,
And I’m left in the world I left before,
And all’s so normal and so hurtful too.
A dull pain throbs within me, deep inside,
And smiles are quite difficult to find,
But I don’t mind. The dream is gone away.
I go about my business and cheer up.
Life’s not so bad. Life’s better than my hopes.
Of course I was a fool to hope for that.
I find it out. I always see it then.
But then another dream is born inside,
And something in me stares at it a moment:
I know that it will hurt. It too shall die.
How long, I wonder, will it take this time
Until I stand and watch it stabbed to death?
How long until it breaks my heart again?
Why must I dream? Why do I never learn?
And then, no explanation, but a voice,
Young, innocent, and hopeful, in my head,
Pipes up and says, “But this time, it will live!”
I don’t know why I listen. Heaven, why?
I turn my face up and I pray, but what?
Shall I pray life or death for this new dream?
I pray at last that all would turn out right,
Whatever that may be. Yet my heart slips.
I feel it promise me that I am right.
I hear it say that I know best this time.
And reason yields that this time it could be
That I have hit upon the perfect dream,
That this dream, this at last just might come true.
Oh, will and reason, why do you not learn?
It doesn’t matter if I’m right or not.
I’m watching the wrong standard; crooked me!
If truth outshines my dreams, then let me run
After the truth, and I’ll outrun my dreams.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

How do I love thee?... No, seriously. How?

Turns out, people are different. There is no end to the variety in people. There is no end to the variety in what people want. And each relationship is just as individual as each person.

The rules make it sound so simple. Not necessarily easy, but simple: "Love your neighbor as yourself." "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." But how? For one thing, not everyone wants to be handled the way I do. If I literally did to everyone what I wanted done to me... well, most people probably wouldn't feel very loved. I like being teased. I like people to be brutally honest while smiling with a hint of amusement. I like people to talk about philosophy and abstract concepts, to wonder with me at goodness. I love to be laughed at. And I know people who would hate most of those things. And then you have more questions. Is it more loving to let people live their lives and learn from their mistakes, or to try and help them learn the easy way? How much do people just need others to have patience, and how much do they need challenges? How much do they need to be borne with, and how much do they need things to make them change.

Tron Legacy is one of my favorite movies. Which is odd, because I know lots of people who think it terrible. But honestly, if I had to give one reason for why I love that movie so much (apart from the fact that it's visually stunning and the soundtrack is amazing), I would cite one line: "Flynn is teaching me about the art of the selfless, about removing oneself from the equation."

The art of the selfless. It's an odd phrase, but it's so accurate. Selflessness isn't only a principle. It's an art. It requires skill. It must be learned. It's takes a certain amount of creativity, imagination to try to discover the best thing to do in each individual case. But yes, the main idea is to take oneself out of the equation. To be constantly willing to sacrifice yourself, your wants, your time, your plans, your hopes, your dreams, your all for the sake of any other human being, like it or not. That, I suppose, is love.

But it gets confusing, because we aren't God. We don't know their souls, we cannot know for certain what is best for people. We can but try. And even if we're right, we cannot control them. We can't fix people.

Sometimes I feel like I'm shooting in the dark. Do they want a hug, or would they prefer to be left alone? Do they need to talk something out, or do they need to just think right now? Would letting them do this on their own do good by strengthening them, or would giving them a helping hand do them even more good by encouraging them? Do they need someone to sympathize, or do they need a fresh, happier perspective to cheer them up? Or, my personal least favorite one to think about: Do they need me right now, or do they just need someone else? And my usual response is simply, Well, I have no clue, so I guess I'll just try something out and see how it goes.

And I suppose that's all we can do. Try to learn. Try to love them in the best way we know. And if we make mistakes, we can learn from them. After all, it's probably fair to say that a longing to be understood is pretty universal. It just irks me to think that there's a certain amount of trial and error involved in loving others. After all, we're dealing with souls here. Our actions can affect people, deeply, and it's rather terrifying that we could go wrong without even meaning to, could hurt someone we mean to love just because we didn't know any better.

We aren't God. But hey, God is, and he knows precisely what each of our friends needs, and He can give it to them with or without our help. He can work through our failures just as well as through our successes. We couldn't impede His plans for them if we tried. And if we seek to do others good, if we love them for His sake and pray to be a blessing, I trust that He will work through us.

And we will learn. I just have to remember that it isn't about me being the perfect helper, the perfect friend. It's about God's goodness, and He will take care of the story itself. It isn't our job to write the story. Our job is simply to be willing to help others whenever we can, to do our utmost to do others good to the best of our ability and knowledge. To pray for them, knowing that only God can truly help them. And to pray that God would teach us the art of the selfless.