Story time

“You’re very good at telling stories, grandpa.”
“Thank you my child, it is very kind of you to say so.”
“Do you enjoy telling stories, grandpa?”
“I suppose I do. I don’t think I would be telling them if I didn’t.”
“Is it hard to tell stories?”
“It gets easier with practice.”
“What’s the hardest part about telling a story?”
“You are a curious one, do you know that? But then is it not the role of children to be curious?”
“Very well! Let me think… I should say the hardest part about telling stories is to know where they begin and where they end. Stories are curious things, much like you; they are quite unpredictable. They are alive, weaving and waning, like the flowing of a river. Those who tell stories only tap into this flow as it makes its way to its destination. The hardest thing to learn is where to tap into it and where to leave the flow, for the rest will pour out by itself.”
“You’re very wise, grandpa.”
“I wish your grandmother held the same opinion. Now, enough of your little interrogation. It’s time for bed.”
“Ok grandpa. Thank you for the story.”
“Sleep tight.”
“Goodnight, grandpa.”

“What does interrogation mean?”

A short

There once was a man who was travelling across a foreign country in order to get to the land of his father. He had left many years ago as a promising young man with many plans for his life. The world, however, turned out to be a far harsher place than he had first envisioned. He trusted too easily and believed too naively, and eventually found himself cheated out of all his assets, his wealth, and his dreams. Left with nothing, he resolved that he would return, with great shame, to the man he left so many years ago. One day he was travelling through a very dense wood. It was around twilight, the path was very narrow and the light poor. He was afraid he would not find shelter for the night and feared bandits in the area. All of a sudden he heard the voice of a man. He had been travelling alone for weeks now and the sound of words carried in the wind pricked his ears. Whoever this man was, he was further along the path, and he was singing. The timbre was rich and burly, conveying the idea of a large man, probably bearded and wearing a large checked jacket (as that's how these things go). Despite this grand image, the melody was soft and gentle, sweet almost, as if the words floated effortlessly through the air to land upon his grateful eardrums. He rounded the next corner and lo and behold, a large bearded man in a checked coat stood before him, lamp held in one hand and walking stick in the other (he was always good at guessing these things, it was a gift of his). The man noted the traveller's presence and seemed weary of him at first. Lifting up his lamp he gave him a good look through furrowed brows. Deciding that the young man was both too young and too scrawny to be a threat, he flashed him a big cheshire cat grin. They struck up conversation and the young man was amazed at the aura of this enchanting man. He was well into his fifties by the look of it, but he carried himself with such grace. It was like watching a hippo take part in the royal ballet. As they talked, the young man asked the elder why he was singing. The answer came "I sing to the trees. Every day I go for a walk at dusk and sing to them." It turns out that the elder's wife had had a beautiful voice. They had no children and she had no one to sing to except him. Every night while she cooked in the evening she would sing beautiful songs, and he would sit in the porch after a day's work, just listening to the sound of her voice before he went into the house. Then twelve years ago she died and he was left alone. He said he never realised how quiet the world is until he had to live every day by himself. So he began to sing on his walks before the darkness came every night. "But why do you sing to the trees? They have no ears to hear you, and there is no-one else out here to hear you. Do you sing for yourself?"
"No. I do not sing for myself, nor do I sing for my wife. I know she is with me, every day. I need not sing to feel her presence. I sing for the trees. These woods used to be full of her singing, and when she passed they fell silent. But I am still here, I am still alive. And if I am still alive why should there be silence in these woods? We are creatures of the light. We weren't made to blend in. We're made to stand out in the darkness. Like song in the silence."

Excuses and Lines

I've neglected the blog for months. No excuses, things just took priority in life. That said, it'll get more attention come October I expect.

A friend asked me to write a little thing for him to help with his MA final project. The subject was the various social/religious/sexual/physical lines and barriers that exist and what happens when we cross them. He suggested I share it here, so here it is.

They say there is a fine line between love and hate.

To cross it is to go beyond a boundary held in the highest regard with friends and family.
To cross it is to abuse of a power freely given.
To cross it is to betray trust.
To cross it is a horrible thing.

But it is a line which can be crossed in more than one direction.
And to cross it back again is called repentance.
It is called forgiveness.
And it takes love to cross back.
It necessitates the action of the one who has not crossed the line, as well as the one who has.
If one cannot cross back, well, then there is no love.

It is a curious thing that one needs love to arrive to love.
But if love is real, then it will be. It will endure.
If love is real, perhaps that line cannot be crossed indefinitely.
If love is real, perhaps that line does not exist at all.

To the Sea

As you have probably noticed, I have failed to blog in a while. Staying inside most of the time trying to get down to study doesn't seem to have a good effect on my creativity. I need to have that certain degree of "nothing to do" to just escape into my head and ponder things to write about. So yeah, I've had nothing to write about for a while. Unless you want to hear about gynaecology. No? Thought not.

I finish exams on Thursday! It's almost here! After a month of sitting in my study looking at photos of friends on the beach and at parties, I actually get to go and do those things soon (well, and not feel bad about it). The past two months have not been good to me. Very little sun exposure and way too many biscuits have left me looking like the beached whale. But no matter! Very soon it's all about sea, sun, and sleep. And music. My keys are literally covered in a layer of dust. Time to shake that off soon. Time to start making things. Coincidentally the discovery of Gungor has really been fuelling the creative juices (thank you Jamie and Van).

So yes. Summer (for me) is almost here. Let it bring new life. Good times. Fond memories. And a regular blog post.

Ok Go

I have no new post for you this week. The combination of having two exams to study for and lack of inspiration have led me to thus. My apologies. Currently I'm at my desk, paediatrics book sprawled on display. Tomorrow marks week three of exam season and I tire of it, especially as many people are very close to finishing their exams and we meds still have a bit of a stretch to go. I'll not fret about it, this too shall pass.

But I cannot leave you with disappointment and ranting! Never! Here are some shiny things to distract you! (I realise most of you have probably seen these by now. It's just what my day has largely been about).

Yes, I'm a huge nerd.

I have become rather obsessed with The Vampire Diaries. I realise that it sounds like the girly television version of Twilight, which, I won't deny, in some respects it can be. But it takes a similar premiss and does an incredibly good job of making it both believable and addictive. Well... ish. Still, I'd recommend it.


Good morning. Good morning! I said it twice... Oops.

This is not a 'real' blog post in the sense that this is not a 'serious' blog post in the sense that this is not the 'blog of the week'. Oh no. This is just an update. I watched a TED video by a guy named Ze Frank this morning about... well I don't really know what it was meant to be about. He mentioned the internet a lot. And it was funny. But I don't really think there was any point in it. Odd. Anyway, he illustrated this Google function where if you search "what am i going to say next" followed by your name (you'll notice that the ze frank option comes up automatically) and then hit "I'm feeling lucky" you'll get... well... what you're going to say next. Now, I don't really believe this works. Or not well. But I tried it and it generated a blog entry I posted back in 2007. I read it and kind of enjoyed it, and well, here I am. Does this mean Google was right? Unlikely. More that Google's affecting my mood and thus my course of action. Where am I going with this? Good morning!

Another interesting site I came across the other day is called We Feel Fine. What this site effectively does is allows you to generate a (very nicely designed) app that scans the internet for blog entries and who knows what else that includes the words "I feel" or "feelings" or things thereof. Then, anonymously, it allows you to view them in several formats. You can even adjust demographics like gender, age, date posted, and even the kind of weather conditions present when it was posted. The purpose? Well I think it provides a good insight into what other people think about and what matters to them. Ultimately it helps us understand each other better. Maybe. Also, if you're up to it, you can pray for anyone who's post touches/disturbs you.

Interesting site number two: Incrédibox. This site lets you generate a song yourself using different dynamics like instruments, voice, chorus, beat, etc. It's all done in a fun animated setting with replicas of one charismatic dude pumping out all the sounds. If you're good enough there are three bonus features that might make it into your track, and there's a shuffle feature for good measure too. Pure fun.

You'll notice that to the right of this entry underneath the tweet section there's a little questions box (Vous avez un question? Oui, oui, bien sur!). I got insanely bored studying yesterday and ended up setting up a formspring account. I really don't like how spending all day inside studying compels me to spend a whole lot more time on the internet. I end up signing up for all these social networking sites, even if I don't really want to. Anyways, if you're itching to ask something extremely vital or insanely random, give it a whirl. Maybe it'll turn into a kind of anonymous agony-uncle feature. If not I'll probably just delete it after a while. Like after exams. When I can go outside more often. Like normal people. Normal. C'est vrai non?

An excuse to write

Today I have a case of blogger's block. Very simply put, I don't know what to write about. So perhaps I'll write about that - writing.

I'm not going to write about the history of writing, the writing of literature or even the systems of writing. Wikipedia was made for that. I'm going to talk about what writing means to someone who writes.

It's an art. Above all other characteristics that make something artistic, such as interpretation, the ability to communicate or express, or even that subtle enigmatic quality of inherent beauty that is common to all art, personally I believe it is an art because it is something that you cannot do all the time. A painter may paint, a musician may compose, and a writer may write. But the product itself is not always the same. It's quality ebbs and twists subject to the inspiration of the artist. Sometimes the muse is playing and the hand moves as if of its own accord, the person seeming to be no more than a spectator in the birth of something truly remarkable before him. Other times it is as if one doesn't know how to operate his or her own thumb, almost as if it were a new acquaintance. It's not on. It's not happening. You have yourself a firm, rude, mocking block. And it is frustrating.

Yet if it were not so I wonder if we would treasure art for what it is. Surely the qualities mentioned above, the emotional implications and delicate statements art can make give it more value than pearls and trinkets. Yet this fleeting feature to it, that it is rare, here and then gone, is what I believe makes it precious. If every time we were to hear a person play the piano it would, without fail, be a masterpiece, then just as surely as the value of currency it would depreciate to nothing more than a common-day thing. Moreover, we would most likely be upset if it were not so, stamping our feet and pacing in outrage. No? Think about computers. I have a Dell PC at home that I've had for almost eight years now. Until not long ago it was still my main hardware at home. It took roughly half an hour to be able to operate after being switched on because of all the painstaking loading of programmes it had to do. If I tried to run more than three programmes at the same time it would slow down to the pace of a very indecisive sloth. If I dared to have a wind filter coming in from the right on Photoshop as opposed to from the default left, it would have a heart attack and the program would freeze. It was below par. And it frustrated me. Now imagine dancers were like PC's. To a great degree the industry already treats all manner of artists in such a light, pushing them to be the best and create the best in order to make the final cut. But what if you or I, the average Joe, had to be so very critical? If every wrong note or misplaced brushstroke, or, dare I say it, the occasional misuse of syntax, provoked the same response as a desktop that just took too long to load?

Perhaps I have gone off point. Perhaps I never had one to begin with. But, if you have made it this far, leave with at least one sentiment in mind. That at its core art isn't really about the product. Like life, it's about the journey, both of the artist and the beholder. It provokes thought, emotion and reflection. It provokes change. And in the end, it transforms something small and rudimentary into something meaningful.

THE GREATEST ART from Hillsong Church on Vimeo.


We cannot run a marathon unless
we take that first step.

There is a world out there
that needs change,
needs hope, and needs

Nothing will bring about these things
unless we decide
to be the change,
the hope and

the love
in this world.

Church is not about buildings or
rules, laws and regulations;

it's not even about vocation

or sacrament.
The Church is the people

who follow Christ.


What does
that mean, to be
Is it about
practise or education? Is it about


Is it about morals or ethics or principles?
Is it even about devotion?

What if it wasn't about any of these things?

What if it was about something entirely different?

What if it was all about


A relationship with God.

To relate to God and

with God.

A God whose heart is for the broken

and the dying, the poor and the neglected.
Not only that, but whose heart is also for

the CEO and the spoilt child,

for the comfortable and

for the passive.

For those who are too good and those who
never will be.

Relating to a God like that might change lives.

It might change the world.

But change
requires sacrifice.

Love necessitates
a price. And to change

the world would take
a great price.
It would take suffering.

It would take

a cross.

"You are the salt of the earth."

Matthew 5:13

Every second

Push. Push! Now breathe slowly, just breathe. Another one gone, so close. She says soon. Man, I hope so. It's so warm in here, how long has it been now? I really need a drink. Ice, lovely. I suppose it'll have to do. Thanks dear. Look at him, he has no idea what to do with himself. So clueless. It's cute. He still acts like a little boy sometimes. I love that about him. Yeah, yeah, hold my thighs, I know, I know. You don't have to tell me a - Oh! I'm pushing, I'm pushing! I can't give anymore lady! AH! Oh God... Oh God... It's... It's a girl!

Oh man she's holding my hand! Score! What do I do now? Ok, ok this is good. This is great! Right, act casual. Maintain eye contact. Wait, how's my breath? What did I eat last? I think it was pizza... I should really learn to never eat at parties. Ok focus! She's smiling. Slide the hand around the waist.... like that. Hozaa! She stopped. Is this is it? Is this the sign? Oh man, just go for it. She's leaning! Slowly... slowly... and... bingo.

I can't believe we ran out of milk; cereal without milk isn't cereal. Well, technically it is but that's not the point. It gets all mushy inside your mouth and dry and then you have to drink something or - wow. Is that what I think it is? Oh! It is! Mcdaddy fries and a llama what do I do now? Should I open it? Of course I open it, what else am I supposed to do, name it and take it for walks in the morning? Ok stop being silly. Argh! These envelopes never open easily. They always tear. Geez I'm nervous. Are my hands shaking? I think so. Ok just go for it. The board of... bla bla.... which one of these are they on? Maybe the- Oh! I passed!

The food tonight hasn't been as good as usual. Did they change chefs or something? The menu's still the same. What's eating him up? He's been distracted all evening. Smile a bit silly. There we go. To be honest I can't wait to get out of here. I just want to go home, change into my jammies and curl up on the couch with a good DVD or something. I know I promised him we'd go out but maybe he'll be open to it. You never know. It's great night outside though, he'll use that. Oh crap! This dress is new! I'm such a clutz sometimes! *sigh* Hun can you get me another napkin? Hun? Why is he kneeling? Oh my.

Do these machines always have to make so much noise? I don't get it. But heck there's a lot I don't get. Like the custard they serve for lunch, why does the woman always ask me which one I want when she knows they've only got one flavour in stock? And they say I'm the senile one. Sheesh. I never eat the thing anyway. They should serve something nice once in a while. Like apple pie. Hang on, hospital apple pie. Ha! I'd like to see that! Or maybe not. Susie made a killer apple pie. Always was a whiz in the kitchen, that woman. Gosh I miss her. One day, one day. I'll have to make do with my dreams for now dear. My dreams... I should get some sleep. I'm awfully tired.

The Three Loves

Love isn't something easy to define. It's abstract, vague, enigmatic. The closest attempt at a definition I've ever heard is "Love is the voluntary renunciation of rights". If you looked it up in the dictionary you'll probably find a lot of definitions that have to do with the things people associate love with - feelings, emotions, hope, security, happiness. Love does have a lot to do with these things, but it doesn't begin with them. You can't say that love is a feeling as much as you can't say that chocolate ice-cream is a chocolate, even though chocolate is precisely what you taste, what you experience. All these things are facets and products of genuine love, but they aren't the thing itself. They're not the root. So what is? The answer is choice. We love someone or something because we choose to. We choose to give them more importance, more time, and priority in our lives. Often we'll find ourselves putting them - voluntarily - before our own interests. Because we love them. The willingness to let go of what we're entitled to. That's where it all begins. But certainly, this isn't something that comes naturally to all people. Most people struggle with love; none of us can claim to do it perfectly. It's something that has to be learned through experience. But how do we learn to love? To love well?

One The love of God

The alpha and the omega - where it all starts and ends. God is the author, perfecter and embodiment of love. It's because we're made in His likeness that we're even able to love and it's through experiencing Him, directly or indirectly, that we learn how to love. God is the easiest thing to love and, paradoxically, the easiest thing to hate. God is perfect and infinite, always good, always right, always forgiving, always hoping. It's not hard to see how His qualities always win our hearts over. These same qualities can infuriate us - experiencing the infinite will always point out the limitations and shortcomings of the finite. We'll never be as good as He is. He'll never lose an argument. And, most frustrating of all, it is never His fault. But to know this and take it against God is to relinquish everything you have been given so freely in pursuit of a feeble pride. To say no to the one person who is best equipped and ever available to help us. If we let go and return, just making one step, opening the door a crack, we'd find His love isn't based on our acceptance or our ability.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
Luke 15:20

Loving God is so easy to do because He chose to love us first. He created us. He disciplined us. He forgave us. And He saved us from ourselves. All because He loves us. And no matter what we will ever do, He will always love us. Realising this, and experiencing it, can bear only one inevitable outcome. To love Him back.

Two The love of Others

You might not have noticed, but we live in a world filled with other people. What a shame. People that take the last seat on the bus. People that cut us off in the queue. People that smell. Interacting with other people is a necessity of living. Loving them is not. It is perfectly feasible to live ones life not caring for anyone beyond their ability to give us something we want. This thing could be a home, a job, company, a discount at the supermarket, even emotional attachment. If in all these things our focus is only on ourselves, what we're getting or experiencing, then based on our definition love hasn't entered the picture. And the scary part is that, because of our fallen nature, prioritising our own interests is what we're programmed to do. And we all do it. A lot.

But the first love will also inevitably lead us to the second. Slowly we begin to see aspects of God in His creatures. Think about it this way, God is good and the source of all goodness, so every time you see someone say or do something good you are seeing a part of who God is. You are seeing God in them. Think of your favourite hero speech from a film you've seen. That feeling of righteousness, of truth, of defiance in the face of evil, that's of God. And it's incredibly attractive. It feels right. This makes moving from loving God in Himself to loving Him in others flow easily. But there is a step beyond this - to love someone else for themselves, just as loving God in Himself. This isn't as easy as the first love, because unlike God, they're not perfect. They're going to make mistakes. They're going to mess up. And often they're not going to deserve it. To move past this is in no case easy but to do so is to achieve something truly beautiful - to love as God loves us. To make sacrifices and go out of one's way for another person just because they are, is to mirror the Creator and the Saviour. To take joy in them. To be interested in them. To look at what they do and take as much pleasure in it as if you had done it yourself. And to do this because it has been done to you.

Three The love of Self

You'll notice that loving yourself is the third step in the cycle. Which is odd as society deems that this is where it starts. Everything around us tells us to please ourselves, to make ourselves happy, to treat ourselves with some fancy shower gel. And loving ourselves is important, but we have to put it in context, so to speak.

The third love is not really about making ourselves happy or treating ourselves. Not that it's wrong once in a while, it's just not the point. Loving God and loving others, being led to a state of mind which always looks to put others before yourself can make self-love seem like a dirty concept. But think about it more in the sense of accepting yourself. Ah. To be other-minded is something divine, but if not coming from the right heart it can also be a form of escapism. Because when you're always thinking and working for others then you never have to come around to facing who you are. And for a society which promotes loving ourselves, there's a good number of us who find it hard to come to terms with who we are. To accept the way we look. The way we speak. The way we're not quite as good at football. The way we're too tall or too short. The way that in some form, we're just not good enough. And the hard part is that it's probably true.

But loving ourselves is just as important as loving God and loving others. It completes the circle and can only really be done once we've been through the other two. It is the second reversed. To look at ourselves, just as we are, with the eyes of the Father. To know that we are loved even though we are not worthy of it. To know that we're accepted. Just as we are. So then how can we judge ourselves? Who are we to say we're not good enough? Who are we to reject ourselves? Once we learn this love, possibly the hardest of the three, the cycle moves more easily. We learn to accept others' faults more easily once we've learned to accept our own. And we learn to love the Creator more when we really love the creation. To look at what you've done and take as much joy in it as if someone else had done it, that is the third.

Looking for that "thing"

This week I watched the film Kick Ass. My opinion of the film generally coincides with what other people told me they thought of it - that it doesn't take itself seriously. The plot wasn't terribly ingenuous and not that much goes on. The most likeable aspect of the movie are the characters. Except for Big Daddy's voice. I think his constant exclamation of "Oh child!" a little, well, 'the call is coming from inside the house'. You get me.

One thing did remain with me after the film finished, it was something the protagonist, Dave, said:

"Not saying there was anything wrong with me. Just that you'd have a hard time finding a hook. I mean, I wasn't into sport... I wasn't a mathlete... or a hard-core gamer... I didn't have a piercing, or an eating disorder, or a thousand friends on Myspace. I wasn't funny. Like most people my age, I just existed."

Going through the teen years can be a pretty gruelling experience. Setting aside all the havoc hormones are wreaking on the body and the pressures of trying to succeed academically in an ever increasingly competitive world, there's the social scene to consider. It's a pretty well established fact that people like categories. Once you start to be able to form an opinion on something you're labelled into the cohort who's beliefs are akin to yours. I remember when I was in my teens most of this labelling was associated with music. You had the rappers, the party people, the skaters, the rockers, the technophiles, the punks, the popular people. The list seems endless. And you couldn't escape one label or another, somehow you were always fitted into some form of group. Even if you deliberately tried not to, a group would be made out of the people trying not to fit into a group. And the world keeps on turning.

The University years dissolve this social herding and brings forth the era of individualism. Studying an area that you specifically chose for yourself and being amongst a large student body in an environment that encourages you to mingle, meet new people and get involved in whatever floats your boat can do wonders for your development. Now the tough questions begin: what do I care about? What do I want to work towards? Can I achieve everything I'm setting out to achieve? I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that the environment and opportunities today - even on this tiny rock of an island - give ample chance for everyone to succeed in what they set out to do. But then, what if you're not so sure about that?

Some people are born knowing that they want to be doctors, pilots, teachers, forensic anthropologists, but some people aren't quite so sure about their calling. Many have very evident passions and talents - captain of the football team, the aspiring dramatist, the talented pianist. But then a lot of people are middle ground. Average. Run-of-the-mill. Not really bad at things but then not quite having a field of expertise. Liking different areas but without any sense of a true calling. The drifters. The doubters. The people who just seem to exist. And this can be the cause of a lot of distress. Because no matter how non-chalante one can appear to be about the subject, everyone desires to have their own "thing" - that one field where they're the resident consultant. The one passion for which they will work and strive towards.

I think most people eventually find out what it is they feel their "thing" is. For some maybe it lies in family - certainly these days being a good Mom or Dad is certainly no easy thing. Or perhaps it's being a good friend to those who need an ear or a shoulder. There are no easy answers to such insightful questions, certainly none that I can attempt to give. There have been endless stories, poems and songs written about the human desire to discover its purpose in life. In the end, we're all trying to find our place in a very big world. I don't think we're made for one single thing, one mission. We're a little more varied than that. We're like pen-knives. We're multi-purpose. And to make it more complicated, we change with time. The saw gets replaced with a spoon, the can-opener with a corkscrew. We have no directive. No instructions. In the end, we're just here. We just exist. We're what we are. Us.

And you know, I think there's a purpose behind that.

Picking it up

My apologies for not blogging last week. I really wanted to, but I've been swamped with trying to study for an A level in a week, which really is much less fun than I thought it would be. There'll be a post later this week.

In the meantime, take a look at this shiny thing right here!


I have no idea...

...when I'm going to be able to blog this week.


United we stare

Blink. Then blink again. Then realise that you are blinking. As you realise this, notice that it is not remarkable in its own right. It is remarkable in that it makes you realise that you've done something, because quite frankly you have spent the last fifteen minutes or so (fifteen whole minutes!) doing nothing at all. Just staring at that one spot on the wall, not aware of anything. You blinked again. See? Hardly remarkable now, is it?

Procrastination - the plague that riddles every teenager, twenty-something-year-old and just about anyone who has to meet a deadline of some sort. It astounds us, it terrifies us, and it unites us. It has fuelled companies and websites, and its repercussions - having to cram in an immense amount of work into a very short time frame - leaves the coffee industry's pockets nice and taught. Well, tea in my case. I decided to write about this particular topic because last week as I sat down to work I was permeated by that inexplicable desire to do nothing. Nothing at all. Not only did I want to avoid doing the work I had to do, I had absolutely no inkling or desire to do anything else that might be deemed productive in some form or fashion. To top this off, doing nothing at all also incited frustration. Doing nothing was not an option. But there was nothing that I deemed worthy of doing. So I sat and paced and sat and did nothing and went over my options, deciding that none of them was a viable solution, I paced and sat and did more nothing. In the end, I picked up my guitar.

Coming from the Latin pro (forward) and crastinus (of tomorrow), Wiki tells us that procrastination is "particularly prevalent in the academic setting" , even citing that "80-95% of college students engage in procrastination, approximately 75% consider themselves procrastinators". How about that for unity in diversity? There's even a Student syndrome described, where "people will start to fully apply themselves to a task just at the last possible moment before a deadline". As I read through the page I realised just how true this all is. How many people do I know that are always ready on time with presentations? How many keep to their study schedule and don't have to cram in at the end or leave bits and bobs out? It affects us to such a degree that we've made a science out of sitting for exams. With just a little information of the exam format we can deduce the important things to go over, how many questions we can afford to leave out, and even tackle the beast that is negative marking with only the most basic of background information. Being a student isn't about vigour or applying yourself to hard work and learning (well perhaps for some of us it is, though rarely in areas that we really need to be). It's about being able to write five hundred words on... well... nothing.

But procrastination has been with us since the dawn of time. What is scary about it today is that it's been made semi-pro. Twitter. Blogs. Youtube. Facebook. The titans of modern slacking. They provide us with hours of meaningless activity if we're desperate enough to look for it. Or create it. As exam season rolls around the activity sky rockets with status updates every fifteen minutes, then comments on the updates, then comments on the comments, and down the spiral we go. How many hours of our lives have we lost to these monsters? What was life like before we had them? Because I don't know if you've noticed, but we can be pretty resourceful and creative when it comes to applying ourselves to something if it means avoiding applying ourselves to something else. If we didn't have these networking sites maybe we could devote our time to creating something new, to discovering some new insight about life, to having real conversations with real people about real things. Maybe, when you think about it, procrastination isn't such a bad thing. Maybe it's what sometimes drives us to explore areas of life that we never would. To bring out the poet, the scientist, the friend inside all of us. But we'll never get there if we're still looking around for a new profile picture.

Tick Tock

The other day I came across this excerpt from C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters:

"Let [man] feel as a grievous tax that portion of [time] which he has to make over to his employers, and as a generous donation that further portion which he allows to religious duties. But what he must never be permitted to doubt is that the total from which these deductions have been made was, in some mysterious sense, his own personal birthright."

Time. It is perhaps our most precious and valuable asset. Time is money, yet it can't be bought or sold. There's always either too much of it or never enough. It is unfeeling in its routine and yet it is the great healer and comforter. As I left the house after reading this I mulled over this whole concept of the way I regard my time. It was around five thirty. Rush hour. As I sat cooly in the driver's seat, the music from the stereo playing soothingly around me, I observed my fellow commuters. The emotions on display on all their faces ranged from tiredness and distaste to urgency and frank anger. Being stuck in the same position for even two minutes has the ability to make one irate enough to yell and honk if they feel this is an extra interruption to their planned schedule. "I've been at work all day. I'm really tired. I don't need this". How many times have I felt this way? But as I sat there in my nonchalance I felt eerily removed from the scene in front of me. I was a casual observer in this cacophony of protest.

Have you ever had any experience with that particular type of person who always likes to be on time and thus becomes extremely nervous and agitated if they are late for anything? I am one of those people. Life tends to be very hectic and I find myself always rushing from one thing to another. Everything becomes scheduled, planned, prepared, and dated; and anything that gets in the way of that can send me over the edge rather quickly, even if it's my own fault and especially if it's due to someone I know and love. My time is precious and quite frankly I don't have too much of it just lying around (but then somehow I still find myself procrastinating from work. How I do this I may never know). But who am I to judge how best my time is spent? We prioritise things in our life and thus everything else that seeks our attention is an allowance from our higher commitments. So what happens when our time is intruded upon without our permission? We get irritated. We get mad. And we get rude.

But I should think: What right do I have to my time? What makes it mine? Did I somehow earn it? Because I certainly didn't make it. When it comes down to it I can't mould it, bend it nor shape it in any way. All I can do is move along with it in the flow of life until I reach the end of my days. The end of my allotted time. And it is allotted. This is the one preconception we seem to never question nor revise. Truly, we are rarely aware that the sentiment even exists. We have no right to our days just as much as we have no right to our birth, to our health, to our belongings, and to our family. We don't get to choose how much time we have, we only get to decide how to use it. It is, very really and truly, a gift. Perhaps if we had to treat it as such our attitudes might change more radically than we'd expect. If every moment, every minute, is a gracious gift that we are given - to be alive, to experience relationship, and to create - then how could we possibly be upset that we're not in the place we had planned to be or doing the thing we "should" be doing? Perhaps He who has given you all your hours and minutes and seconds has somewhere He thinks you should be. What if that irritating last minute conversation with your mother just as you're about to head out is something that she really needs to share with you? Is doing the dishes after supper such a waste of your precious study time?

There are things in life that are beyond our control. There are things that are entirely up to us. And then there are things that are in between. What we must decide is how we are going to approach them.

This weather

Makes me feel very, very sleepy.

I've been listening to a lot of Brooke Fraser lately and I have to say she's become one of my favourite artists by far. She is a Kiwi, so you know, awesome by default. Recently I've been running around looking at MIDI keyboards and after a trip to Olimpus this afternoon I think I've narrowed the choice down to two models; the deciding factor being, as usual, money. I want to get one to be able to compose and such with Garageband. I've been toying around with the program for a while and it's pretty easy to use, if not slightly restricted. But then for something that comes ready installed on the Mac, it's pretty brilliant. Maybe in future I'll move onto the beast that is Logic. Baby steps.

I got a desk chair this week! I know this isn't really news, but it's nice and swanky and maybe now I can get all kinds of work done comfortably. So yay :)

Regarding the comments on this week's post, Drew I don't think any of the things you said actually clash with anything I discussed, if not highlighted things that I didn't really go into. So thanks for that. I was pretty surprised how short it was to be honest, funny how things look really detailed in your head but once you actually type them out there's not much there. I'll try make them longer in future. I've got some ideas for next week's post but if you have any serious things you think I should write about leave your suggestions in the comments section. I have a tendency to write reflective stuff and of a somewhat spiritual nature (mostly because those are the kind of things I usually ponder) but I'll diversify if I think the suggestion's interesting.*

*Lady Gaga and insomnia don't qualify as interesting :P


Aw shucks!

"I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing."

Around 400 BC Socrates was trailing around Greece being very concerned with wisdom. So concerned that he proceeded to have a chat with all the most learned and respected people of his time, after which he concluded that no-one really knew much about anything and that he was the smartest one of the lot because he was honest enough to admit it. At first glance it doesn't tell us much about wisdom, but it does tell us a lot about humility.

My dictionary defines humility as "a modest or low view of one's own importance". I shall begin by saying I believe this definition to be inaccurate, though it is what most people believe. To think that you, as an individual, or any of your qualities are automatically inferior or less valuable than anyone else's is to miss the mark quite radically. Doing so to make other people think better of you is to do the complete reverse. "Oh he never takes credit for anything. It's SO good and he still thinks it's rubbish! He's SO humble!" Mmmm, you can practically taste the fuzzy warmth of it all.

St Bernard defines humility as "A virtue by which a man knowing himself as he truly is, abases himself". Let's look at the first part. To be humble is to know who you are. To know your talents and your abilities. To know your strengths and your weaknesses. To be that which you really are, and, simply, not to try to be anything else. And after knowing this very well, to serve others no matter who they are. In other words, not to think that you are nothing, but not to think that you are of more worth than others. To elaborate more on this elusive virtue, let's have a look at its antonym - pride. Pride is precisely to believe that something you are, have, own, or are affiliated to, is better than all the others. That you deem it more valuable, more worthy, than everyone else's. Notice though, that pride necessitates competition. You can only be proud of something if there's something it can be better than. If something exists in isolation, then there is no room for pride. God isn't proud because there is no other god but Him. He just knows who he is, which if you'll remember is the first part of humility. The second has something to do with a guy named Jesus, but I digress. Proud people aren't really concerned with being good at something, or even with being the best at something, but only with being better than everyone else.

On the other hand, people who are really humble don't look like shy, low self-esteeming anonymities who won't take credit for anything and will always hide their talents or abilities (if they claim to have any). Real humbletons want to be the best they can be. They want to maximise their potential and they're not afraid to take credit where credit is due. They don't care about how they measure up next to the rest, but they're willing to work with the rest. Even to work for the rest. They don't need to be better than someone, or feel like they're worth more than someone, because they know who they are. Who God made them to be. And perhaps, when we're humble enough, we might start to change the world. But don't tell anyone, OK?