Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Graduates Week & Art

"I'm on a boat!"...This week marked the beginning of Graduates Week--a tradition we have been and still are attempting to instill in the life of Ave Maria University. The completion of a degree at any University is arguably honorable, but at Ave Maria--a small, private university in the Catholic Tradition-- the liberal arts degree is especially honorable. The "rigorous academic life" has done great damage to my contemporary and modern way of thinking, drawn me out of myself and allowed me to see the truth through a new light. To honor those who have bravely and persistently made their ways to receiving a Bachelors degree, the Student Government Association deems it fitting to organize and pay for a series of events, "Graduates Week."

Our week kicked off with a boat cruise out of Marco Island's cruise ship the Princess. About 60 of our 87 graduating seniors made the trip, and while fears of awkwardness at being limited to such small confinements with my class were at my door, it proved to be super relaxing and very enjoyable.

I can't seem to kick this state of relaxation I've been in the last few weeks since I finished my thesis! Suddenly nothing else really carries weight enough to bring me to study and my time has been ticking away filled with random and seemingly insignificant affairs (such as naps, random letters, and what not). Recently a friend of mine has told me numerous times that this time is just going to fly by and that before I know it, I'll be where he is, "willing to give my back teeth to go back and do it again." Throughout the past month, my feelings have gone from one to the other, from excitement to be finally finishing this (the goal at the end of the dark tunnel since freshman year), to sadness and wonder about what life will be like after this. I've spent and invested so much time in the friendships I've had here, and now after 4 years--we will all be going our separate ways. I feel torn--between a call to better-ness and a carefree denial. "Now's the time," so to speak. What do I want? How will I be happy? What are my desires? ...And this brings me to Art.

All that I've read about much-loved authors lately is how lonely, sad and depressing their lives were! They enter my mind as horror stories, as I try to fathom the loneliness of the life of the writer and wonder if its true, across the board, that writers simply lead lives like these. If I commit to something so daring as writing, am I destined to that horribly lonely life, accompanied by many misfortunes and difficulties that deepend and actualize the writing of those people?! Ugh.

Mark Jarman, in his address The Voice of this Calling: Art as Vocation, writes, "Rather, the voice we have heard simply confirms our gift. If anything the voice of our calling urges us to take our God-given talent seriously. It is the happy confirmation of our dearest desires...We have the luck to follow our impulses to create, to live lives which, while we are making art, can be as a sculptor friend of mine has said, "like living in a dream." Art as a vocation, then, has everything to do with how we live our lives. For if that daily reverie we experience when absorbed in writing or painting or composing, that "living in a dream," tends to cut us off from the rest of the world--and it does, as we all know--nevertheless, it cannot be sustained. The world will be waiting, just as surely as it will when we all return to our homes at the end of this week. All of us, I am sure, have organized our lives in a way that allows for successful passage between the dream of our vocation and the world. I wont' say "the real world" because I think the phrase tends implicitly to privilege a realm where life is nasty, brutish, and short. Instead I am thinking of the world that needs our attention and our love. That's the world we must always return to, and if we think because of some privilege as artists that we hvae risen above it, we are mistaken. Our souls are connected to the world as surely as they are connected to God." (I apologize for the length).

Perhaps the lives of writers aren't that different from everyone else's lives--it's just we hear about the lives of writers, and we not only hear about them, but we read it in between the lines of thier works. And there is something that resonates, because we are a suffering humanity. I don't know yet...but before this note turns horribly too meloncholic and ruins what is the apropos mood for the last month of college life, I'm going to stop (writer that I am?!).


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Terminal

I stepped out of the plane and into the airport...and it was too late.

...Moments later, just walking by, and he asked me "Come on, you over 18?" said the black man in a red-collared shirt. And I smiled sweetly, "Yes, but no thanks." And slowly I pulled away--I had nowhere to hurr to and I knew he'd ask me again when I turned around at the end of the tunnel. I smiled to myself, "Free flight, yah right. I know how you work, and nothing is free--try as you may though, I shall not yield to you, tempter." I kept walking in a daze. What else could I do? Time stood still, I knew the seconds were passing just like they were yesterday. But everthing seems funny today. I muse through the shops and wonder where I am...Is Cincinnati in Ohio or Kentucky!? Is this Heaven or Hell?! Everything inside me says Ohio, but everything outside me is labeled Kentucky--shirts, hats, it's on the wall: "Kentucky" in fancy cursive writing. Where am I?! Ah, yes! Contact from the outside world--a text, something I dread and dislike at any other time but now it comes as a comfort to know that life is moving on outside of this place--and I check my watch again--times keeps passing, but I don't feel it.

It seems as if no one new has come here since I entered, and I wonder if I'll make it out--fears of missing my flight, after having had a 4 1/2 hour layover and no people around at all--and it's all so funny. Where am I?! And I walk the corridors--Coffee and McDonals are taking over and the old man driving the cart comes around again, and everyone else is in a daze too. "River's Edge Gallery"..."Bath and Body"..."Borders"..."Jewelers"...Where am I!? This place--it's just a port--a place to pass through, but hte little lady runs her cutesy shop here and lives the days of her life here. The man gone on business too often buys his jewelery of appeasement here. The little old lady sits in the massage chair--reading, not getting a massage. Where is everyone else? Does anyone fly on Wednesdays?! Where am I?!

There's nothing human here--and the man ont he TV keeps talking about Obama and off shore drilling--I do not trust that man, Obama now speaking. We're all turning into machinistic humans...And people look oddly at me as I write, instead of type.

When will I ever leave this place?! It's outside my control--and even when I think I'm to leave, it could still change. I sit at a cubby to write and the sign says "RECHARGE"--and it has a plug in for a computre. What about me? ...lies...everywhere...lies on all sides--we take better care of our products than we do of ourselves. All conversation I had this morning seems like dreams...Did Sam really drive me to the airport? Did Jake really call? Did I really talk to Amanda?

The lenght of the tunnel and the fiber glass windows everhwere--it's keeping the life out. And a woman walks around in all black with a red hat--and she got in here. I think they only let the dead in--only the dead can pass security. Maybe I died?...they checked my ID and bid me good day...and I'm getting no texts anymore...and the black man will ask me again, and wants to give me gifts. Can you get gifts when you're dead? It's a slow day in purgatory today--I was new...and I'm supposed to be leaving soon, but will I get out?!

That song is playing on the radio again and nothing else is moving--Maybe this is what it's like...everything around me inside is artificial, not human, and the voice over plays again warning me of "the humans"--those who place things in my bags, and they are going to search and take care of my bags if anything human comes near it. But there's still something in me human--and I can see it outside too--where am I?! Ohio or Kentucky?! Well--either way, it's too late. I already bought my ticket.

Friday, April 2, 2010

One Friday afternoon...

One Friday afternoon, years and years ago, an event took place that changes every second of the present even now. I found myself thinking during the Good Friday service this afternoon (the one day of the year where Mass does not happen), "So this is it--." All of a sudden, I realized again what it means to be a Christian and that this is it: no one is saying yes for me, either it's my yes or it's my no. And to say yes means to say YES, this life is not all there is--and so I better quit complaining while I'm behind and whenever something uncomfortable or inconvenient comes up...also, all those petty things I worry about, yep--those too, not as big as I thought. ...Harkening back to a conversation at a coffee shop on the Feast of the Annunciation, I recalled again that it's necessary to be united in word, thought and action, and so my next task is to incarnate what it is I think and allow my words and actions be true fruits of the realizations of prayer and life...

My senior thesis came and went, and I did indeed find my way home to the North for Easter. I had forgotten how beautiful spring is, in its stark grayness and slowness. As I look around and see the grass still dead, the black dirt that was hidden for so long under the snow, the bare trees, I think this is life--patience, waiting, we know what's coming and we look forward to it, but Spring itself still speaks of the triumph over winter. I feel like I'm in that scene in the new pride and prejudice, where Elizabeth is on the swing, spinning and spinning and the seasons change and it's raining--and it's always raining. I think to myself, "this is what I wanted?" and my self answers back "yes--this has meaning."

I will be enjoying here for the next few days. In the dramatic filter that somehow finds its way to filter all that comes into me (even blah boring spring), I feel that this break at home was indeed exactly as its meant to be, and that I've learned lessons that will change my course of life for the next few months. Had I not come home I would not have seen. And for coming home I am already seeing differently. Regardless if I remember this consciously anytime soon after going back to school, it will remain in my unconscious, and I really do enjoy very much living life dramatically vs. not. Happy Easter.