Got to dabble in some design work for church recently. I’m incredibly excited for our first Paradigm Cafe next month. If you’re in Los Angeles, definitely check it out.
we’re all leaving.
He knew he was dying; he was sure of it. It was the eighth of July, and he’d have until the twelfth to live. He thought about what he’d do with the time he had left, the people he’d meet, what he’d say.
He began by running. Uncertain as to how or why, he felt his legs moving with a profound sense of honesty and sincerity. He had never run in this manner before. Gone from his mind were the e-mails he’d have to send, the meetings he’d have to arrange, the bills he’d have to pay. He simply ran: inhaling, exhaling. And looking around, he took it all in (whatever that meant anyways).
He sat down with five of his closest friends at a Panera (somehow they always ended up at one). He listened intently as each of them talked about their new jobs and potential lovers; he laughed when they asked him if he was on some obscure diet again. Casually, or as casually as he could, he began to thank them - one by one. He thanked them from the bottom of his heart (wherever that was) for being who they were, flaws and all. He wished he could articulate how good they had been to him and how much he’d miss them, but the breadth of language felt so insufficient.
He sat with his family. And as he ate his mom’s food, he desperately clung to each and every scent, half-hoping and praying he’d be able to die with those aromas inside of him. He took a break and ate some more. His mom’s cooking was the best; he was sure of it. He smiled when his parents nagged him about getting a real job and finding an acceptable wife. He smiled because he had never been so loved as much as he had been than in this household.
He decided to sell his meager possessions and give the money to his parents; maybe they’d go on their first vacation, he hoped. He wanted to apologize for anything and everything, but he thought it might cause them more grief after he was gone. It was the first unselfish thing he had done for them.
Finally, he journaled. Reflecting on his life, he paused to remember the highs, the lows, and the funnies. Especially the funnies. He felt everything he was writing was starting to sound trite, but he didn’t care. He wrote that he wished he’d been able to forgive more quickly, to not be so afraid of people and circumstances, to really invest in the people that he had loved, and to help without strings attached.
He was praying – for himself, for his family and friends, for the world. He wanted people to be reminded that, though he was going sooner than most, everyone would eventually be leaving. We were all on borrowed time. The only thing that would remain would be love: who we loved, how we loved, why we loved. And in that moment, he realized he wasn’t dying – far from it. He was alive for the first time in his life.
She sat next to a man at a coffee shop. Or rather, he sat next to her. He was typing, his fingers moving with such speed and precision that she figured he’d spent a great deal of time on Mavis Beacon as a teen. She was trying to read but had difficulty concentrating because the man who typed quickly was shaking his leg. Normally this wouldn’t bother her, but they sat only two feet apart on a bench (this was one of those coffee shops with benches) so she couldn’t read more than a few words without the oscillations getting in her way. She even tried placing the book on the table in front of her, but his leg-shaking vibrations shook that, too.
Frustrated, she stared at him intently; she assumed such a gaudy act of disdain would compel him to stop, but he continued to type and shake his leg. At her. Or so it seemed.
She continued to stare, rather intently, and noticed he was an average, everyday sort of man: plaid shirt, black jeans, Converse shoes. Though she noticed his shoes were accompanied by a pair of turquoise socks, which after regarding, she thought to be quite unusual. These socks were exceptionally bright, so much so that she believed if the lights were to suddenly turn off that they’d still be visible in the darkness. She decided to reconsider the fast-typing, leg-shaking, average, everyday sort of man.
Maybe, she thought, he wasn’t so ordinary after all. Maybe he was the owner of an extensive sock collection and punctiliously chose a unique pair of socks to wear every day of the week; he’d select a color based on how he was feeling that morning. Turquoise meant he was feeling fun and flirtatious today, and he had come into the coffee shop with the intention of being noticed by someone, anyone really. The someone, or anyone, would make a passing remark on his socks, and he’d respond immediately with a calculated, witty pun. “Thank you,” he’d say. “I guess I really put my foot in it.”
She continued to stare at him, though a little less intently. She got up from the bench, took her book, and left the coffee shop. Through the window, she saw that he continued to type, shaking his leg. She would not be the one to notice him today.
It was as if he was looking at her for the first time. Obviously, he had seen her before; he had been seeing her for the past 25 years. But he hadn’t really seen her for quite some time. He had a picture of how she looked, a photograph developed in the darkrooms of his mind when he was six or seven. Probably seven. And then the image just kind of stuck. So whenever she would speak to him or play with him or tuck him into bed, he never looked at her. Not once. He already knew what she looked like anyways.
But today, over lunch, he looked up from a spoonful of rice and noticed something. It was late in the afternoon with a bit of sunshine coming in from a nearby window, and his eyes followed some light until it came upon a single strand of hair on her head. Illuminated, it wasn’t black; on the contrary, it was the complete absence of blackness. He looked again and assured himself he wasn’t staring at some peculiar optical illusion. All this time and all these years, he had assumed (more than assumed) that her hair was black: all black, always black. But here stood this single strand that was now glaringly and utterly white.
He couldn’t help but stare at this strand of white hair on her scalp. And the more he stared, the more he realized it wasn’t just one strand, but multiple, maybe hundreds (it’s often difficult to gauge these things). So he looked at her - really looked at her - and came to the sudden and immediate realization that he did not know the person sitting before him. She had hollow cheeks, dark circles and crow’s feet, calloused hands, thinning hair, and frail bones (he could not actually see her bones, but he felt they were frail). And the more he looked at her, the sadder she seemed. Maybe she didn’t seem sad, maybe she was sad.
He did not know this woman. This woman was not his mother. He already knew what she looked like anyways.
A few years in the “real world” post-graduation, I’ve become really good at not wanting things. I don’t know if I ever made the conscious decision to become apt at this particular skill, but it’s become sort of second nature. Maybe my body just realized one day that it needed to evolve emotionally in order to cope with the pain of failure – a mechanism for survival.
But sometimes, I’ll admit that I slip. My body forgets. And I suddenly find myself wanting something: desperately, with every bone in my body, and with every ounce of my being. It quickly escalates, and the once elusive barrier between fantasy and reality becomes breached. Everything, including my deepest desires, hopes, and ambitions, now abruptly lies within the realm of possibility. I’m in a dream, I know that I’m in a dream, I know that I know that I’m in a dream, yet I refuse to admit that I’m in a dream.
Then, all at once - in a flash – it’s all taken away. Fades into oblivion. And you wonder why in God’s name you let yourself slip again, why you let yourself believe that this was the one, the one that would finally prove you wrong. You’ve never wanted to be more wrong in your entire life. Instead, you’re left with a hefty but manageable pain because, hey, you’ve been here before, right? And after some time and just when you think you’re going to be all right, the pain comes back so fast and so hard you’re left wondering if you’ll ever survive this.
They say that pain is just part of the process. That it’s necessary. But at what point do we ask if the pain is worth the pleasure? Do we ever?
Anonymous said: so i've been secretly following you for awhile now (actually around the time you started the blog…does that make me a creeper? haha) anyways, i just wanted to let you know that you inspire me so much. you have grown so much as a photographer/writer/person over the years. thank you for sharing your life with us :)
According to Tumblr, I’ve been writing and posting pictures on this thing for a little over five years. Five years ago,
I wrote like this:
I’ve been sitting here for the last 15 minutes thinking, and I had an epiphany. It’s all so clear now. Girls refer to guys as cute in order to exert their superiority over the target male within the confines of that relationship. They’re basically saying, “I’m more mature than you, more cultured than you, more intelligent than you.” Hence, when I observe and describe you, I refer to you as cute – like a little baby.
Solution: Refer to the target female as ‘cute/adorable’ before she refers to you as such.
It’s war, folks. And I hate losing.
I edited photos like this:
And my hair looked like this:
All I can say is thank you for enduring that – all of that. These past five years have been filled with immense joys, painful heartaches, and many many laughs. Thanks for coming along for the ride.
PS. I hope this post can serve as a tangible reminder that anyone can get better at anything. You just need to practice.
Anonymous said: I have a crush on you and you AREN'T a decade older than me ;)
I can die happy now. Thank you.
Anonymous said: What are some of your favorite books??
Too many to name, but I’m currently enjoying The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis. She’ll take you through an entire story with just one or two sentences. She’s hilarious, too.
I have this nagging idea of who I should be in my head, and I think about him often. He’s incredibly articulate, richly cultured, takes his coffee black. He watches thoughtful films (they’re always films, never movies), listens to the finest music, and says the right things at precisely the right times. He travels. And reads.
I often wonder, though, if this idea of myself is actually who I am. Is that person real? Or have I just been fooling myself for far too long? “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Maybe that applies here. Maybe there’s a part of me that naively believes that if I try long enough to be this other person that, sooner or later, I will be.
So inevitably, I spend more time trying to be that person than being myself. Say the things he’d say, do the things he’d do. And sometimes, on days like these, I love that other person more than I love myself.
"Were we, in fact, really still friends - like we said we were, and thought we were, and which comforted us as we each staked out new lives in cities where we didn’t really know anyone at all? Or, I wondered, were we just slowly transforming into simpler and more easily digestible fictional characters to one another - in other words, becoming our profile pictures…"
He’d stopped trying to bring her back.
She only came back when she felt like it, anyway, in dreams and lies and broken-down déjà vu.
Like, Park would be driving to work and he’d see a girl with red hair standing on the street, and he’d swear for half an airless moment that it was her.
Or he’d wake up when it was still dark, sure that she was waiting for him outside. Sure that she needed him.
But he couldn’t summon her. Sometimes he couldn’t even remember what she looked like, even when he was looking at her picture. (Maybe he’d looked at it too much.)
He’d stopped trying to bring her back.
-Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor and Park