All I See Are Explosions Anyway

Hello, friends!!

Lately it’s been like an archaeological dig in my brain. If you’ve been following the blog at all, you’ll find that there have been many discoveries made in the last few days. It’s been an awesome experience, but there are still some things to be desired.

I pray a lot in my own way, and sometimes people think I do it wrong. I have problems praying aloud and instead carry prayers like feelings close to my heart soundlessly. It’s kind of like meditation mixed with prayer, and it helps me a lot. It may be “the wrong way” to pray, but I am firmly of the belief that people can pray however they want so long as they aren’t hurting themselves or other people. There is a time and place for praying aloud and a time and place for praying silently. I’m in the time for praying silently right now.

My friend Laurie talks a lot about there being seasons for things. It was a bit odd to hear that language at first, but now that I think about it, it makes a lot of sense. There was a time and a season where I was a Mormon girl, there was a time and a season when I was an agnostic, there was a time an a season when I identified as male. This is a growing and harvesting season. This is a season of freedom.

The title of this post comes from none other than a poem I wrote that talked about my old school in Maryland. There was a line in there that talked about the only true semblance of prayer I had in those days was when I looked through a telescope and all I saw were explosions of galaxies anyway, not any kind of real answer. In those days, it was hard to be close to God and the universe. I was going through a lot.

Returning to the topic of seasons, there are seasons when I am not close to God and the universe. It’s totally fair and valid if you aren’t close to them right now, in the future, or ever. Your journey is yours, not mine, your best friend’s, or that neighbor down the road that demands an expectation from you and doesn’t deserve one. There will days when you see in perfect clarity, there will be others when all you will see are explosions. You are loved constantly and eternally. That is the great constant.

As I go deeper into this digging phase, this season, the more I learn. Having a seat at the table means more to me than just having an equal chance at life as everyone else. It means being given the same gift of hope and the capacity to dream, be validated, and live fully, not just exist.

I remember bursting into tears at Maryland college after seeing a sign saying “no one deserves just a friendship of utility.” It was advertising a workshop on how to be a good friend. The school was dedicated to the study of philosophy, and a friendship of utility in the texts was a friendship for a purpose, not just for friendship’s sake, not so different from using someone. I was hurting and felt broken and wanted my friends to save me. Not surprisingly, the more desperate I became, the more they pulled away. I was wanting as much of a friendship of utility as that sign was warning against. Nobody could save me but me in the end. It took believing in myself to even feel saved. Nothing, not even believing in God or the universe, would make me feel secure until I started this journey to believe in myself. I may have been broken, but nobody but me could fix me.

My aunt always quotes the safety demonstrations at the beginnings of airplane flights when they say “you need to put your own oxygen mask on before assisting with someone else’s, even if it’s your kids needing help.” My aunt is a wise woman, and there’s much truth in that. There are a lot of ways one can seek truth. You can try and find truth in books, friends, God. A lot of them are ways you can try and avoid who you are. You can believe in and put trust in anything you want, but if it doesn’t help you trust yourself in a deep and lasting way, perhaps it’s not worth pursuing long term. Faith and relationships should give you inner peace and help pass that peace to others, not spread you thin. It’s difficult to help others when you yourself are breaking inside. That’s not to say that you don’t need others to help you get to where you’re peaceful; I’m far from it and I am constantly being filled by the people around me. But I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am now without realizing I had it in myself to be where I am now. Because I have people who are willing to be in my life as I transform and encourage that transformation, I am able to become me and who I am meant to be in this moment. I’m beginning to believe in myself and have faith in that seat at that table. I see more than an explosion in things now, myself included.

After all of this, how can I believe in myself, you may ask?

I try not to pretend to know others’ lives, only my own. So here’s what has worked for me.

I’m learning in my life about what I call the great constant – that I am loved at all times, no matter how much I feel I have failed or fallen short.

I am also learning about what I am worth as a human being and child of the universe.

Put those together and I find that I am worth indescribable amounts and so are you. You are given a seat at the universe’s table simply because you are here and you are existing, experiencing this crazy thing called Living. You are loved regardless of where you have come from, who you are, and what you have done.

It takes work and a lot of faith. What really helps is to think back on what I have learned when I’m faced with a setback or a personal failure and present myself with mercy instead of condemnation. Because I know I am worthy and loved, I am allowed to continue trying. Just because I make mistakes doesn’t mean I am a permanent failure. The aftermath of a mistake is an opportunity for improvement, to strive to do better next time and the times after that.

I believe that the moment you start to present yourself with mercy in failure is when you start to believe in yourself. From there, your self talk begins to change and you will work towards being able to see that you are loved in infinite ways and the cycle repeats itself.

I’ll never be perfect, and there is always something new to learn. That’s something that also takes learning. Thank you for learning with me.

Love,

Meg

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The Great Constant


Hello!

Today is a new day, even though it is a bit young for me. I woke up at 12:30 PM and am kind of regretting my life decisions. So I have camped out in a super hip coffee shop and am just enjoying life for now.

There’s something I don’t think about often but am thinking about now. I don’t usually like getting out of bed nowadays unless there’s something that’s making me leap out of bed at 6 AM. That’s usually a lesson, to be honest. I like getting up at 6 AM, but there’s not been much getting me awake and alive. I am quick to blame that on my surroundings and lack of events in my life, but I honestly am not feeling super motivated internally and that is why it’s harder to get up and move, I think.

I’m not feeling depressed, is the weird thing. I am perfectly happy when I get up, I just feel unmotivated, like there’s not much to look forward to in that moment. In other words, I think that my reason why I’m doing things, why I am living and not just surviving, why I am happy, even, isn’t big enough. I have big dreams, but I don’t honestly believe in myself enough for them to motivate me. It’s not that they’re small, it’s my lack of faith in myself.

It’s funny that I feel this way, especially after I have discovered that I have a seat at the universe’s table and have a voice. I should be living this discovery, right? How can I use my voice? How could I possibly be bored with my life?

I find during these “boring” days that I overlook the little things that make me happy and make waking up worthwhile. One of my favorite little things is when my roommate leaves fresh coffee grounds in the coffee machine to be made in the morning. It saves me a step and I am always thankful for it.

I’ve got coffee in hand and I’m thankful for that, too. I used to make long lists of what I was thankful for in a day, and that got me through the final stages of my husband’s and my long-distance phase. I nearly filled up a journal with these thoughts. I keep thinking that I should do them again, but never get around to it. I make note of the bigger little things, but I need to actually write them down and properly thank God and the universe for these little gifts.

I was reading a book called Captivating, which is a Christian book. One of the chapters spoke about God-as-lover and elaborated more on how God shows people love in small (and big) things, like a gorgeous sunset, or for me, the entire state of Alaska. I see God a lot in nature and in the people I meet. I definitely need to do better at recognizing that facet of God.

It’s interesting to me that I generally learn about God and the universe one little bit at a time in the times when I need that facet. I didn’t believe in a God who could personally love me until I started thinking a lot about the process and practice of gratitude. When I started to take note of these things, my perspective shifted. YES, I was loved! Yes, I was protected! It made so much sense.

One of the things I struggle with in my journey with God and universe is that some things need to be taken on faith and that I don’t have to understand everything. I think of my journey with happiness, for example – a lot of the time I am happy and I don’t know why. I don’t always need a reason to have happiness as my default state. It just is sometimes, and that is that. I am a child of God, I am a child of the universe, their love is constant and a given. I am carried on their shoulders. So are you.

“Meg! What does it mean to be carried on the shoulders of God and the universe?” you might be asking.

Well, it means different things to different people. For me, it’s kind of like standing on the shoulders of giants, you can see more than an ordinary being. But it also bears a connotation of a child being carried on a parent’s shoulders. I am supported and seen, is what it means to me. I am loved.

Knowing I am loved is a powerful thing. Knowing that God and the universe watch over me and guide my path as I listen is a wonderful feeling. They are everywhere. I miss my dad, but he is always watching, too, but in a different way than he could when he was here in this plane. I don’t entirely know what the purpose was in him dying, but I know he was needed elsewhere. Some have said that he gave my husband the nudge he needed to talk to me again so that our journey could begin. That would make a lot of sense seeing how similar they are. I know my dad loves me. I know my husband loves me. I know that my husband came back into my life at the exact right time. God and the universe, in their infinite wisdom, knew what to do. I will always be mistaken in thinking that my life is boring.

I am needed and I am in need. It’s strange to think that we are never truly static, there is always something changing, constantly putting us in need of help or in a position to help others. We receive gifts and are gifts to others.

I have said it before and will say it again, we are given what we need in the times that we need it. We are loved spiritually, that is the great constant. Nothing we can say or do will change that, it was so from the beginning and will always be. It doesn’t matter who you are, you are given an equal chance and a seat at the table. Be seated! The meal is coming.

Love,

Meg

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Burning Bright

It’s very rare that I read for pleasure, or even read at all. It’s an even more rare occurrence that I read a book and find myself in the pages.

I read Fahrenheit 451 last night and that was one of those times.

I first picked it up when I was about 13 out of my parents’ book collection. I didn’t have what I needed to completely grasp it, I think. I was a smart kid. I could understand the words and the concepts, but I never finished it because it wasn’t relevant at the time to what I was going through. I didn’t have enough of myself in me to be able to see my reflection in the pages.

I don’t think I would have understood the book in the way I did last night had I even read it a month ago. For the last month – no, several months – I have been learning how to question. Question what was told to me as a child and teen. What was told to me in church. What was told to me in college, all of my colleges. I was taught to question in college, but the lessons always had an undertone of “question the way WE want you to question”, as though they were expecting you to do the opposite of what happened here. I was taught to question growing up, but never in a way that went excessively out of the realm of “reality”.

Reality. Along with truth, everyone has their own version of it, even if two people claim to have the same perception. And so it went – people trying to keep me grounded ultimately became scared of me, I think, and then tried to keep me sane. I felt from around the age that I first picked up Fahrenheit that my emotions had to be convenient to others or else they were strongly encouraged to be managed and damn near suppressed. As the years went on, though, it became apparent that my emotions – specifically anger and sadness – were not convenient, could not be neatly expressed, easily gotten over, or fully escaped. I was not one of those houses in Fahrenheit, fireproof. I was, rather, the fire. I was a destroyer.

As mentioned in a previous post, I saw myself as deserving nothing more than to be labeled as such because I wasn’t “normal”. I wasn’t someone easily handled. Potential romantic partners fled, and that’s when I began to resent myself. I wanted to be like the girls who got that guy, and I asked myself, why did I have to be such a house fire? Why didn’t I give anything to the world? Why did I feel so damn strongly?

In high school, when I asked what I should do to get a guy, the answer in its simplest form was “be less intense.” This usually came with advice such as “don’t answer so many questions in class” and “wear more makeup”.

I tried that for a bit. It was as much a betrayal of myself as it would have I pretended to be someone completely opposite me. So I went back to being myself to the best of my ability.

I think some people were scared of me because of my sadness and anger. As 2016 drew to a close, my anger festered. My dad had died less than a year before, I carried a hated so bright it could be seen from space after the end of a traumatic relationship, and I had just left a college that felt like home for Texas and then Idaho. The environments couldn’t be more different.

I went from questioning books to questioning God, even though that was not the effect that the college wanted. I had learned to some degree how to wrestle with a book, and I supposed wrestling with God would be similar. My anger continued to rot.

It never felt safe to express emotion to some, for their response would be without fail some variation of “are you taking your meds?” or “have you told your therapist about this?” I listened to these people more than others because I felt they knew me. I had hurt them, and I was convinced that only those whom I had wounded truly knew me. So I listened to them forgetting all the while that there was some possibility that I wasn’t crazy, or on the brink of a manic or depressed episode, or even a full on meltdown. In the end, though, they were wrong.

That small motion, the white and red color, a strange fire because it meant a different thing to him. It was not burning, it was warming.

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

In the novel, firemen start fires, not stop them. Guy Montag is one such fireman until he meets a girl who starts to make him think. From there the meaning of fire starts to change. It goes from a way of life, the status quo, to a weapon, and finally a source of warmth and salvation.

He hadn’t known fire could look this way. He had never thought in his life that it could give as well as take. Even its smell was different.

Fahrenheit 451

I started to go from wanting to be like one of the fireproof houses in the novel to accepting my role as the fire upon my move to Alaska. My husband changed everything for me.

Towards the beginning of our relationship, I challenged very little of what I had been told about myself. I thought about gender sometimes, but even that was deeply suppressed because how could that possibly be a part of me? I’d been told it wasn’t me when I went through it the first time, and I’d seen enough evidence to know it was correct. But something was still missing, it couldn’t be that? I was just a house fire, right?

No.

It took months into our marriage to start changing my mind. My husband and I talked at length about how I might NOT have bipolar disorder. The doctor upheld the concerns that all of us had about my meds and ordered that I start lowering the dose on one and tapering off another entirely. I learned a few days later that the bipolar disorder diagnosis had been removed. It was some of the best news I had ever heard.

That’s why I love Fahrenheit so much. Montag went from accepting that things are perfect the way they are to learning there is much work to be done for there is nothing okay with the current situation. There are some in the novel that refuse to change and hear the truth, like Montag’s wife, Mildred, in the end:

“Montag, falling flat, going down, saw or felt, or imagined he saw or felt the walls go dark in Millie’s face, heard her screaming, because in the millionth part of time left, she saw her own face reflected there, in a mirror instead of a crystal ball, and it was such a wildly empty face, all by itself in the room, touching nothing, starved and eating of itself, that at last she recognized it as her own…”

Fahrenheit 451

The people in Fahrenheit hide from themselves, the world, and self-awareness. There’s no real external government censorship involved. The citizens have chosen for themselves. Thinking is scary, and those who think for themselves are branded as insane. This is another reason why reading this novel was so vindicating – people who think and are branded as insane are the ones who triumph. And along with them, the meaning of fire changes.

The meaning of my fire has changed. Breaking free from what I have been told, thinking for myself – I’m no ordinary house fire.

I sang once in a song I wrote called “Gone”,

“And the cities we built, they stood for a time, but I will rise like a phoenix from the ashes they left behind.”

“Gone”

I have risen like a phoenix from the ashes I have left behind. Maybe that’s why I write so much about fire.

Love,

Meg