Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Taste and Feel of Summer

I will admit to being on something of a sensual kick of late; I don't think I am to blame, honestly. Recently, it's been a lot of fun to reflect on the various sense experiences available throughout the days.

About a month ago, the light in the sky started getting more intense, the sun really filling the sky and then some for the first time in months...and the breezes, for a few blessed weeks, accompanied this new abundance of light; thus we were blessed with the days of Spring. I would take walks with my family in the evening, and you would need to carry a sweatshirt because once the sun finally went down, it would be too cold to be out without added layers.

Well, things are heating up, school is out, and BBQ's frequently scent the air; smoking goodness wafting through the air, sweet tang and fire...I may need to spend more time at the pool to stay cool, but that is hardly a concession for moving from Spring towards Summer. The chlorine perpetually in my hair, the stickiness of spray on sun screen (the wife is adamant...I say, burn early, tan for the rest of the summer...but I seem bound to remain pasty and white...SO attractive...contrasted with the Lobster look, and eventual skin cancer...choices, choices)...and the satisfyingly drained condition of having spent hours in the sun while swimming, walking, or even just sitting and reading, talking, thinking...being.

Of course, the natural choice on such days is citrus; preferably something lemony and berry-ish. Ocassionally, when the heat gets particularly intense (not yet, thank goodness) it's time for Shave It! and my traditional macadamia nut ice cream, with some combination of guava, mango, coconut, passion fruit ice.

Life is good. Summer seems to be a good time for feeling that.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

At the End of All Stories

Does this sound familiar: you find a story which captures your mind and makes your heart beat a little faster with every word you read, every moment you watch...whenever you hear the music (whether provided for you, or of your own selection) it makes your skin tingle with a special anticipation...a flutter in your gut, your breath catches...somehow, inexplicably, this myth, which is not in any way linked to your real life...this story...rings true.

You devour every moment you can; if it's a book, the words seem to fly off the page as your eyes swallow entire paragraphs at a glance...if it's a movie or a TV show, you rigorously guard the appointed hour and follow dutifully all the little extras they release in the meantime, and avoid the spoilers who would rob you of experiencing the moment in the moment.

The story captivates your idle thoughts, influences your manner of speech, perhaps even the way you dress. (Alright...this probably only happens if it's a really good story. And probably only if you are a nerd such as I...) Every moment you can savor this story for the first time is a special bliss...others might give you a knowing look, as fellow partakers...but the experience is also deeply personal; it's what helps make you *you* and it is something you will carry with you always. Ask any true fan about the first time they read Lord of the Rings.

Of course...then there's the tragic, inevitable moment when you know that the end draws nigh. There's no avoiding this problem (though I have tried...to avoid finishing The Man Who was Thursday I put the book down for 4 months...when I picked it back up, I had a hard time remembering everything...and it still ended); if you try to hold onto the moment and slow down on the march to the end, you twist the story and do it a disservice. No, you must come to the end. It is the natural way; all stories end...and when our favorites do...we experience a loss which is difficult to define.

Nobody has died. In many cases, our heroes have experienced the end we hoped for...resolution is the point of these conflicts, and it is a relief to finally find that safety and consolation we hoped for; occasionally, stories let us down, but even if they ended badly, the conclusion is vital to the finished product.

And yet...despite worlds moving, hearts breaking, hope beyond hope yielding results greater than even we dared to dream of and everything being different because of it...weirdly nothing has changed.


So, what now? How do we fill the space? What do we do, when the story ends and we are brought heartbreakingly back to a real world that doesn't understand how precious and beautiful and wonderful life was for a few moments (prior to the last few words on the last page, or the closing scene, fade to black...)...more importantly, WHY must we endure this loss?

Two thoughts: first, we live as our heroes would live if this world were theirs. That's not to say, become a Ranger and abandon life in the city, or go in search of a school to teach you to use your magical powers...(problematic, since we're Muggles, but I digress). The "what" your hero does is not what you're supposed to do; it's the "how". That sounds depressing...but I venture to guess that in most stories, the heroes don't spend the entire time reflecting on how awesome they are. Rather, they exhibit virtues which are sorely needed in our own world...and we need heroes to step up and shoulder the responsibility of saving us.

Second, the reason we fill this emptiness is fairly straight-forward: it is because we are empty. We are looking for our story, we are waiting to embark and are anticipating the chance to be something we feel certain we were meant to be...but have not yet realized. Good stories let us touch that, for a moment...offer us the chance to glimpse, as through a mirror dimly, the adventures we have yet to encounter. The high country, for which our souls are still being conditioned...the hopes we have not yet learned to even dream.

Yet it is not for naught...at the end of all the stories, when the themes of redemption and salvation and heroism and love and perseverance and courage and justice have all been told, and filled our souls with so much light we can barely contain them all...at the end of our story, when life has closed (sometimes sooner than expected...perhaps after more time than we could have believed possible), we will open our eyes into a reality so crisp and unmistakeable, that all the stories we have ever known will resonate at once and we will have found our eternally new, fully resolved story.

Until that day, I continue to read, watch, and dream.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Trouble of Time

I have restarted this blog a few times since the first day I ventured into the modern foray of publicized ideas. Usually a restart follows a long period of "not-posting" inspired by a major shift in life, or a daunting absence of coherent thoughts, preventing me from forming worthwhile paragraphs or even sentences.

My last break came with the arrival of our second son; even before Kellan joined our home in the flesh, his impact was felt and I simply could not find time to reflect and write. That carried on long after he was born, and I failed to produce thoughts even when I had committed to doing so for others. In short, the last 8 months or so have been mostly fruitless on the writing front for me.

Happily, I had Facebook in the meantime. Facebook allowed me more leeway than Twitter, due to larger word count, but did not force me to commit to a full article in the tradition of a blog. I could be petulant when I felt like it, pensive, celebratory, etc. Also, people interacted with me and I prefer dialog to talking to myself, which is how I often feel when blogging.

Thus it was that I spent a great deal of free time writing Facebook statuses and arguing with friends about various subjects, and recently I noticed something interesting: I was writing longer and longer thoughts on Facebook, and was less and less satsified with merely throwing out a blurb here and there.

Now, this may or may not matter to most...it may not be greeted with any joy (oh, so, you mean you're going to talk MORE?) and it is possible that the only good thing which may come from picking up blogging again is I spend less time on Facebook...but I am hoping to begin developing complete thoughts once more and working to present them in an interesting, articulate and enjoyable manner..and hopefully I'll get some readers again...but mostly, I'd love to start writing once more, since it's getting harder and harder for me to imagine a world where I get to return to grad school or ever write a paper important people will read. I miss engaging in discussion, and hope that this might fill some of that need.

The trouble, as always, is finding the time. But we strive on, and pray for grace.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Unto us, a son is given...

Unto us, a child is born.

4:18 AM, August 11, 2009. Name...forthcoming.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Because I've got the Castle...

and a beautiful Lady of the House, and a knight/dragon (it depends on his mood) and even an incredibly lazy ferocious beast...it seems appropriate to announce the impending arrival of a princess.

Coming soon to a Leigh House, possibly but not necessarily near you: a Baby girl. God is gracious and generous.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Victory in the Grave

When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.
Revelation 1: 17-18
Happy Easter. He is Risen!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Enjoying the Simple things

Today is the last day before Easter Holiday...and I am all too ready for the rest I anticipate over the next few days.

Over the coming week, I intend to walk my dog, play with Aiden, talk with Sheri, hike to some waterfalls, catch-up with friends, read some books, blog some, and possibly, just maybe, get a BBQ and do some grilling in the beautiful weather we've had recently.

A good week, spent doing simple things with people I love.

While gutting out some of the huge piles of grading I have had in the last few weeks, I put on some movies to fill the time; especially on those nights when Sheri is at work, it's nearly a necessity. Being a social person, I will simply fall asleep if I am in silence reading papers for too long.

Long and heavy movies are on the dock for such evenings, since Sheri wouldn't watch with me if she were there...and so some of the highlights have been a viewing of Patton and the entire Godfather trilogy. I also finished watching Band of Brothers with Sheri a short time ago.

The result has been some surprises; after rewatching the entire amazing experience of Band of Brothers, and then viewing the fascinating but unsatisfying stories of two masters of men, George S. Patton and Michael Corleone, I am convinced of one thing; it is better by far to have a simple life than it is to strive after glory and power, even if you succeed.

My revelation may seem obvious; I am sure I have friends who have never been tempted by the lure of the pursuit of power or glory. However, I have perhaps never been so fully convinced that a simple life is better as I find myself at the current moment. It is a little funny, and a little sad, that it was the medium of movies that communicated this truth to me; our Lord, after all, said plainly that blessed are the meek; I think the reality is that while I trusted His wisdom, I did not fully perceive why it was so wise until seeing the stark comparison via these movies.

The Band of Brothers, tells the stories of average men who accomplish great things; not for greatness itself, but because it was what was required of them at that time and place. Once they were free to live their own lives, for the most part they proceeded to pursue lives of excellence, but not necessarily worthy of general acknowledgement. From all accounts, they lived (and some continue on even today) as unassuming members of their communities, proud of having known and served with men of valour and honor and courage, but each thinking themselves to be the least among these. They quietly receeded from their glory, and embraced the simplicity of a lives well lived, filled with good hard work and the accomplishments of years rather than wealth and influence.

This is contrasted with the lifes of great men, for whom no success is ever enough, who quest after the immortality of their own names, and discover that grasping their hearts desires means losing all the zest which first urged them forward.

I hope to learn the quiet joy of such a life. To dare all the great tasks which necessity requires of me, but to content myself with the joys of being a father and a husband and a son. To embrace the pleasure of being a teacher and a student, to quest after the glory of old age with the wife of my youth and the joy of a community I have invested in.

And I am looking forward to continuing down that road this coming week. Huzzah for Easter Holidays!