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Archive for June, 2008|Monthly archive page

Penetrating Questions

In Speaking into the Silence on June 27, 2008 at 6:43 am

Some questions are so penetrating that I am unwilling to explore its depth.  One of the most difficult questions for me lately has been “What do you want?”  The question has lurked in my mind like a predator.  Sometimes it seems my life is an expression of this question.  How badly do I want it?  Would I be willing to suffer for it?  Give my life for it?  Penetrating…

I have heard it said that the problem for alcoholics is not that they want to much.  It is that they do not want enough.  They settle for much less than is actually available to them.  I relate heavily to this.  I settle for living in jealousy, envy and pride; rather than living in the possibility of what I want actually happening.  I am often discouraged from ‘wanting’ by thoughts that suggest I do not have what it takes.  Basically, aware that I do not have the resources within myself to get what I want.

So, to answer the question means that I step into some uncertainty.  I want to be a writer.  So, I have developed all kinds of elaborate plans about how to accomplish this.  I will go to grad school, become a psychologist, and then have something wise to share in writing.  But, it has also been said, “to fail at the impossible is higher than to succeed at the inevitable.”  The path of grad school is not impossible for me.  I would not be living in hope against hope.  Because I would be settling for a lesser want.

But, to live in the reality of these ‘higher wants’ is to live in a realm of mystery and discovery.  It is to risk.  To truly live.  It also opens me up to the unknown, unexpected and inconvenient.  But, I have never been so alive.

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Living with tension

In Politick on June 25, 2008 at 10:38 pm

As I came in to work yesterday, I listened to Dr. Dobson’s ‘defense’ against Barack Obama’s commentary.  The clips that he played were from 2003 (I believe).  He set himself up in a very defensive posture and misrepresented Barack’s statements.

It seemed that Obama set up a couple points of tension, which Dr. Dobson did not pick up on.  Dr. Dobson used the word ‘equate’ in reference to Obama’s associating his name with Al Sharpton.  I perceived Obama to be setting up a tension between two polar opposites.  The only ‘equating’ that occurred was that both Dobson and Sharpton are representatives of a diverse Christian faith.

I notice my own tendency to pull away from the tension of seemingly opposing ideas (E.g. homosexual community being marginalized as modern day lepers).  Do you feel the tension in this implication?

Also, I am prone to only hearing that which I understand.  Keeping a frenetic pace through my day does not afford me time to wonder about things.  It eliminates the tension of mystery.  So often, I am finishing the story in my head.  Can you resonate with these tensions?

Inclination to Eye Sight

In Wise Eyes on June 25, 2008 at 2:53 am

I went to the streets to listen – unfettered of my own reliance on my eyesight and my own isolating privacy.  I desired wisdom; to hear it calling in the streets, crying in the public square and shouting at the city gates.  Today, I visited main steet Huntington beach.  I marvelled in my own anonymity.  As is often the case, it was quite the challenge to go about this task of listening.  My own proclivity toward other ends often frustrates my attempts.  Some distractions include the desire to eat, sleep, busy myself with other activities (which would feel easier, but less on target).  This afternoon’s attempt was no different.

My first observation was how much difficulty I had in closing my eyes to listen.  My own reliance on my eye sight for security struck me.  How much more difficult for me to close my eyes and listen!  As I examined this fear of closing my eyes, I came to realize that I was most afraid of someone I knew (perhaps from my HB church) to see me and question my motives.  It was as if I would feel exposed for such a pursuit.  Can you relate to wanting to be able to see things to believe them?

I was also afraid of not being able to see someone from a distance.  This tapped into my own desire to be prepared for anything.  I noticed conversations and what people said to others.  The girl next to me made comments about her new ‘promotion’, which seemed to suggest her value to someone.  The person responded that “there is nothing better than loving your job.”  I want that same sense of value.  I see myself in these comments; wanting to be noticed and acknowledged.  What are some ways that you are communicating a desire to be noticed?

Paradox

In Poetry on June 25, 2008 at 2:01 am

They that know the ancient songs
Sing in different directions
That those who hear might liberally appear
To be, without reservation

So often wanted to be this or that
This was intolerance and that, licentious
Required to hold in each hand
The other, needed and vivacious

Slightly tempted to be in need or needed
Highest regard held the latter
Often unnoticed demanding my time
And attention to live for it faster.

Where did men once go for strength?
Not to schools or pathways oft trodden.
But in the stillness remembered
The power founded, yet forgotten.

A hope remains for those who still hear
Not fear of death or damnation to call
But sweetly remains the awkward presence
That beckons with rhythm for all.

Trued Tension

In Eclipse on June 24, 2008 at 2:34 am

I carry with me an absolute insistence to figure things out.  I want the answers before I ask the questions.  When a difficult question is asked, I am frustrated if I do not have the answer.  Even in my daily time to sit down and focus for writing, I am already playing out all the end solutions of this work.  It is as if I want the story of my life to be told without having to live it.

This morning I met a friend at the gym to lift weights.  When we were parting ways, he asked me to go again on Wednesday.  Although I had resolved only to meet up with him once a week, I found myself consenting or giving into his request.  I found myself consenting to his needs or desire without keeping hold of my own.  I let myself be overcome or out-of-control to his needs.

Even sitting on the street corner, I wrestle with the desire to do something that is of value.  I would not cherish the provision of the moment, but rather insist on being needed or of value to someone else.  My mind seeks out strategies of how to become valueable to others.  Some of these strategies include: going to grad school, getting the ‘higher paying’ job, and trying to win the favor of my coworkers.  And the list goes on.  None of these things are inherently bad things, but for me at this time, they stem from the security of being valuable to others.  Donald Miller talks about trying to prove why I belong on the lifeboat.  I do that with my actions.

In the midst of these musings, there is tension.  A tension which I cannot escape.  I would immediately retreat from the desire to be valued into a place of isolation.  Indeed I often revere the ability to cut off from the constant needs around me.  I call it stress management.  In order to have some separation from the demands of work, I find a way to separate from the needs.  This can be a great thing, but it can also tend toward isolation or self-insulation.  I protect myself from the hurts, pains and needs around me.

But, how to hold these musings in the tension?  How can we remain in the challenge of the questions without insisting on having the answer?  My coworker extended me some of her snacks today.  However, I had closed off to receiving from her last week; because, it seemed she was taking advantage of my sharing with her.  How can I me stilled and remain in the midst of tension and struggle?  I suspect if I am able to endure what Dan Tocchini refers to as ‘the violence’, I may find hidden provision for each moment.