I felt a chill as I sat down in Starbucks to write. It was cold, but comfortable; something I hope won’t ever describe my relationship with anyone. I listened to the baristas sharing stories about spiders, which was funny at the time since that week had been particularly bug-infested. Just that day alone I had a scary encounter with a flying, long-legged thing about the size of the rim of a mug. (And I had found something black and crawly perched on the top of my head earlier in the day, which I had convinced myself was something else, maybe a piece of lint or fuzz, but definitely not a bug.) And that was not all. We had read an essay in class about a woman’s encounter with a spider in her bathroom the day before, and watched a scene in a movie where the walls of a coffin were coated in bugs the day before that. Bugs…bleh. I have spent many hours sitting and wondering what purpose God had in creating bugs. I didn’t want to consider the (hopefully) distant fate of my earthly body, which would likely involve a similar kind of coffin and bugs that were portrayed in the movie. Only on the screen, its human inhabitant was far prettier than me and quite far from dead. I only know one person who’s dead now, but I didn’t see his body after the fact. He shot himself in the head, so it was probably better that way. What a strange thing to think of; death. Being just gone, erased from the world in an instant other than in the memories of loved ones. What a strange thing to think of also; suicide. Sure I’ve thought about it before, what it would be like to be breathing one minute and decide that you would stop breathing the next. I can’t imagine having such a lack of hope that you have nothing else to look forward to, except the thought that life after death would be better than life before it.
I read something a few days ago that portrayed hope as a demon, whose job is to make people believe life would get better when it really wouldn’t. Sure I believe in demons, but I don’t believe they have the capacity God has to know the future. They might be endlessly smart and cunning, but couldn’t be all-knowing. How could a demon know that life wouldn’t get better? Maybe their job is simply to make people think it won’t get better, at least when all hope is lost. But it always gets better, and it doesn’t always get worse. Maybe the bad place someone is in is their low, and if it is, that should be good news. The only way from there is up; that’s something hope might tell you but no demon ever would. Demons lie and deceive, just like their father. Anyone with a simple understanding of the Bible or a few seasons of Supernatural under their belt would know that. But maybe that is a false perception of demons, that they are evil to the naked eye. After all, they are probably made to look beautiful from a distance, like sin. Why couldn’t a demon disguise itself as something lovely like hope as a way to get under our skin?
I fear that of many good things in life, that they look desirable from a distance but become ugly and twisted when you get closer. Love can often be like that. From the get-go, its all smiles and roses until you realize that people have crooked teeth and roses have thorns. But braces can straighten teeth, and some types of roses only have small thorns that simply create an irritation to skin, not a tear in it. But if there is a tear, I’m sure there is a band-aid in the medicine cabinet that could help it heal. Healing is slow, and creates tough scabs and leaves ugly scars, but roses also grow out of the dirt and braces take time to do their work. So with my scabs and scars and scary thoughts included, none of them actually having much to do with roses or teeth, I sit in Starbucks and write, clicking away on the keys of my laptop. I quietly observe people as they come and go, sipping on coffee and tea, chatting with each other or sitting in silence, getting things done, or simply getting nothing done at all. But no matter what their current task, they are all living. Breathing, blinking, eating, drinking, hoping, thinking…just living. Having a horrible day or a great one, and no one might ever know solely by observing their conversations or countenance.
Life is poetic, but not in the way the Romantics rhyme or the Psalms are paralleled; poetic in the sense that every beating heart and roller-coaster existence is intertwined. We never know who we will meet today, tomorrow, in twenty years, or who we know that might be gone in the same amount of time. Life itself is pulsing and breathing, and has the same emotional ups and downs as people do. What a strange thing to think of as well; life. What does it even mean to live? To die? To exist? We all exist for something, something more than just to be another flawed image of God on this whirlwind planet we inhabit. I believe God created us all with a certain job in mind, even the Bible tells us we were made to work. Maybe its something mundane like working at Starbucks or writing newspaper articles, or something larger than life like playing Peeta in The Hunger Games movies. But even “mundane” can be wonderful; anything can be turned into something great if you put your mind to it. After all, nothing is impossible. It isn’t for God, and with His help it isn’t for us either. Remembering and reminding ourselves of this is key: if we don’t try, we don’t succeed. Even though trying doesn’t always mean succeeding, there is 100% more chance of succeeding if you try then if you don’t. So I guess that’s my resolution: to try. It’s not New Year’s Day, not even January anymore. It’s St. Patrick’s Day. St. Patrick became famous for one reason or another, but that doesn’t mean he meant anything. I guess that’s another resolution too, to mean something. I will give my all for what I want, that’s always been a trait of mine. But now, with college as the road underneath my feet and a career as the road ahead, I have to try harder. Trying is not succeeding, but not trying is failing. So maybe I’ll tac that saying onto my wall in fancy letters, or maybe just let it ring in the back of my mind as I go about my days. Either way, I will try. Life is nothing if I don’t. Maybe that is life: trying, failing, and trying again. People always say the ups and downs are what make things real, but ups and downs are really the definition of being – not just being real. Another strange thing to think of; being, existing. It hurts my brain to think that once I was nothing – nonexistent, uncreated. And then one day, a mass of cells formed in my mother’s abdomen and nine months later, poof: I suddenly was. All my thoughts, feelings, memories, created by the delicate hands of God to be the harmonious mess of cells and spirit I am today. Maybe being itself is an oxymoron, too.
Hamlet asked, “To be or not to be?” but I think that question is a fragment. He must have meant to say, “To be or not to be [something]?” We can’t just not be. Once we are, we always will be. That’s what a soul is: a being. We aren’t just matter, but something more. Matter can deteriorate, but a spirit is everlasting – regardless of whether we go up or down after this life is done. I wonder after we pass away into our lives after death what we will look like, what a soul looks like. We are, now, both a body and a soul. Is a soul capable of walking and talking? Or does it require a body to move and think? I would love to be able to see a soul, just the raw, inner workings of a person’s mind and heart. Or even to see my own. It always bothered me recognizing that I never have and never will see my own face, with the exception of reflections or photographs. I know myself more than another person ever could, yet I don’t really know what my own face looks like. It would mean much more to me if I could see my soul though, or even someone else’s. I wonder if it would be beautiful, or if it would even have a physical appearance to call beautiful. A soul being beautiful is rather the opposite of physical beauty; its about the heart and mind pushing through the dust of life and emerging through trials shiny, new, and stronger than before. Beauty is not a symmetrical face or a pretty voice, it is coming out the other side of difficult things clad with both bruises and a smile.
A smile is the most powerful thing in regards to physical communication, other than eye contact of course. In a sense, it leaves you vulnerable, displaying the body’s only fragments of bone that aren’t covered in muscle and skin. It shows emotion too, which creates vulnerability in the most prevalent way. A smile says, “I’m happy” for whatever reason, may it be the person it is aimed at or the circumstance it was created in. I have been trying to smile more the past year, after being called “the girl who never smiles” by someone I worked with who was known for witty, half-joking remarks. So I resolved to smile, through good or bad, whether someone has wronged me or not, because I know the power a smile can have. Like with meeting someone new and seeing them the following day, a smile from them assures you they are happy they met you and excited to see you again. That alone can make someone’s day, it has for me recently. Even just receiving a smile from anyone in general tells you you’re loved and noticed, and not invisible.
I always wished to be invisible when I was younger. I thought it would be fascinating to hear people talk about me when they didn’t think I was there. But the older I get, the more glad I am I don’t have that ability. If other people talk about me as often and as harshly as I talk about some of them, I most definitely don’t want to hear it. And God knew that when He made us, he knew if we were given certain qualities they would dish out more harm than help, so He didn’t create us with them. I am thankful I have such a brilliant creator. If it was up to me to create a person, I just might fail more miserably than Victor Frankenstein.
This made me sigh; I sighed many times writing this as I often do when writing anything at all. Maybe it was just a mutual release of pent up emotion, through breath and through creative outlet, or maybe just that it is the time of day when more makeup has gathered under my tired eyes than remains in the place it started. So I guess that means its time to wash off my makeup, quit drinking coffee so I can brush my teeth, and slip on my baseball sweatshirt. And then after that, another few sighs before drifting off into sleep in the cramped comfort of my dorm. Hopefully I won’t dream about something strange tonight; my dreams have had a bizarre way of coming true recently.