Does it matter?

A few months back I did a lot of service for someone I care deeply for. I spent several hours helping him or her with tasks that were hard on me physically and emotionally, but I did it anyway because I love this person. Last week, however, when this person was talking about this trial and listing off people who had given great service, I wasn’t mentioned. I just half-smiled and shrugged and moved on, knowing that God remembers what I did and that I remember what I did, and that’s good enough for me.

It got me thinking, though: How many times have I given all of my heart or time or energy to someone because I love them, and I felt that they didn’t recognize my love and service? To be fair, I’m not a parent yet, so frankly I’m being a HUGE hypocrite right now, but still. How many hours of my work and suffering on behalf of beloved fellow humans have been forgotten?

This all reminded me of this awesome post I read the other day by Andrew Bevevino (www.endkwote.wordpress.com) called “What if There Isn’t.” Truly, it was so, so good, and it deserves a lot more analysis and attention than I am going to give it, but you should read it because it has made my life better.

He tells the story of a woman who lives her entire life doing good because she believes in God and wants to be like Him. When she dies she is frail and sickly because of all the service she gave, though everyone remembers her lovingly and gratefully. Her soul passes into a place of pure whiteness and she waits for God to come and claim His faithful servant, but He never comes. She waits in the whiteness for the rest of time, questioning her faith in God and whether her life had been spent correctly. I love love love the last few lines:

But after all those questions, and after all those answers, after convincing herself that God  isn’t real, then changing her mind, then changing back again, she arrived at one, final question.

Does it matter?

Dear Reader, I wonder if we should do good things because we are expecting some kind of reward in this life or the next, or if we should do good things just because they are good.

You can view the full post here:

http://endkwote.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/what-if-there-isnt/

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(P.S. Y’all know I’m Mormon, so if you’re interested, this is what I believe about our purpose in this life and what will happen in the life to come: http://www.mormon.org/beliefs/plan-of-salvation)

Adult-ness

This is me acknowledging real life. In dialogue form.

“Hey, Maney! How’s everything going?”

“Oh… pretty good. I’m applying to jobs and things. Trying to be an adult before I move out for college.”

“Hmm. Haven’t you been an adult for a while now?”

“Well, technically yes, but emotionally…”

“I see.”

“Yeah. It’s just, you know, once you do that initial move… it’s like you can never be an innocent home-residing human again. You’ve seen too much. Your limits have reached past your parents’ four walls.”

“Most people can handle that…?”

“Yes. Maybe I think more than most people. I just starting thinking, and I go down strange or dark paths in my mind and suddenly I’m on YouTube or Hyperbole and a Half, and I feel more comfortable in this nice, cushy, revolving computer chair.”

“But you seem so skilled at life! Look at your past grades and accomplishments! Or maybe that was someone else? A sister? Now that I think back, I agree that maybe you should be nervous about this move.”

“I’m glad we’re on the same page now.”

“Literally.”

“Gaugh. Never needed to hear that pun.”

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The point, Readers, is that life is coming at me fast. The moral of this post? Maybe just that I’m trying to jump in with both feet, but it looks like there’s going to be some epic failing, flailing, and floundering. And you know what?

That’s okay.

(Special good thoughts are sent to my friend Spencer as I share this song by Florence and the Machine, “Dog Days Are Over.” I sing it when maybe my hair needs a little more flipping.)

See Maney Love

Once upon a time, I spent the last month in San Francisco as a nanny. Good, good. First time I lived out of state, ever. I guess this should have made some kind of impression on me, but really I feel like I’m just in shock that I’m home again. I spent the greater part of June/July feeling nervous that this was my last day, and I wouldn’t even die near my home or with my family.

I appreciate that for others, a quick jaunt to the beach for a month wouldn’t be a really big deal. But for me, it was. Maney, you think, you sound like you were sent to fight in a war. But you forget, dear Reader, that for people with anxiety/depression/PTSD, every day is a battle against yourself and the world. It’s exhausting. I reiterate Seneca’s words: “Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.” (This is something I tell myself on bad days.)

So the lesson I learned in San Francisco wasn’t very grand. Kind of boring really, and definitely oblique. And frankly, I don’t even know if I’m right. But over all those hours and days and weeks of fighting to live and love and just exist, I found that when we go, we only have one thing left on this earth. We only have the good and bad things we did that affect those who live on. The letters we wrote, the hugs we gave, the insults we shouted, the isolated days we folded our arms and hid ourselves. And maybe those stupid, stupid things we said are all that get remembered. One of the brightest quotes in my memory of my best friend is “No one cares if you blow your nose.” How could he have known?

Hate cankers the soul, Readers. If this is your last day, I hope you show someone how much they mean to you. Even if you’re quiet about it, at least recognize the beautiful change within your own heart. Tell yourself that you can love, and just keep choosing to love everyday. Notice your gift.

And share it.

In closing, this is a song about love that I think is just really pretty. (Mat Kearney covers “Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen.)

Shackles

The keyboard keeps calling to me. It coaxes me closer and closer to a blank white screen, ripe for a plaster of black font. Every day I ignore the pull, shushing it for just a little longer, just a while more. I tell it that I will never be known for my writing. I tell it that I am young and inexperienced and broken and desperate. I tell it that I don’t have time; I am an adult and I must function. I don’t need to write, I tell my soul, and suffocate its cries as I walk away from the laptop.

But my soul fights back. It delves into art, and I find myself doodling random and meaningless shadings and lines on every blank surface. I sing when I’m alone, and the songs stay in my head long after I’ve crept into the public’s cold eye. My walking takes on a lilt, and I dance, I float, I fly. I find my pencil sketching characters and racing through stanzas of imagery. I catch myself staring too long at the ocean waves, at a blade of grass, at a shaft of evening light. Recreate me, these things say. No, I say.

I WILL NOT BE IGNORED! my soul says in its reverberating voice. You can hate me; you can fight me; you can cage me. And yet I will escape, because I am you. I am greater than you. I own you, and your gifts are not yours. They are mine. YOU ARE MINE.

Finally, broken in more ways than I started out, I give in. My fingers run over black keys and I hand myself over to my soul.

After all, it whispers in smug victory, writers write.