I was talking with a friend of mine today, and I came to some very interesting conclusions about life and where I am right now. And then on the drive home, I decided to partake in a mixture of prayer and deep thinking, in complete silence. Being that I sit in the shop all day and listen to music for about 10 hours continuously, this kind of silence, with just the rumble of the car and engine, makes it really conducive to deep thought.
My friend was talking to me about a relationship, and how she feels that she can't let go of it because of the prospect of being alone. The conversation really got me thinking about what it means to be in a relationship, and what it really means to be alone. First, I asked some pointed questions about what she was looking for in a relationship to begin with, and she didn't really give me an answer, nor did I expect her to give me one. It's a tough question to answer. I think really I was asking the question to myself, especially because I might be pursuing a relationship for myself in the near future. What does it mean to be in a relationship? Also, what do you want to get out of a relationship? It helps to be know before you start one.
So as I was driving home, I was thinking - do I feel alone? Do I feel there because I don't have a romantic relationship that some part of me just isn't complete? I thought about it for a long time, trying to verbalize my thoughts by speaking aloud. I know that sound semi-creepy, but then again it was a soft voice and I was in the car by myself (well, with no one else physically there.) Then I realized that as true as the Downtown highrises loomed over the freeway, as real as the road was before me, I knew that God was listening to me, that he was there, in my midst. That he was essentially sitting next to me as I was driving. It's not something that's easily described, but I'm going to try my best. As much as I know about this world, through experience, truth, knowledge, wisdom, and everything else, I know about the reality of who God is. Everything that I've investigated about this world seems to fall in line with the truth of the Bible and what I've read in it. And this book tells me so many things about who God is and what he's done. It's actually more than a little bit remarkable. As I was driving, I was truly pondering the reality that a sovereign God would actually intersect with his creation through the form of a man. It's actually philosophically absurd, in some ways (actually in many), to assert that God would become a man, that a man could be God. Of course, plenty of mythology suggests that it's not uncommon, but to actually believe that God would take on humanity seems insane. But it's true - historically and theologically.
Believing that I could some how have a relationship with this God (slash) man is another test of philosophical possibility. And yet there are countless examples of this truth, not only in my life, but in the lives of my family members, and many of my very close friends. It isn't just a stirring in my heart or some figment of my imagination - God actually relates to me and knows me. Accepting this reality, I thought to myself - I guess I am not alone. God is always there in my life, regardless of how far I might feel from him. I think this is largely the reason why, despite what culture seem to oppress me with, I do not really feel alone, even romantically. Do I ever feel the yearning to be able to cuddle with someone while watching a movie? Do I ever wish I had someone to go to a nice dinner with, or perhaps sit and drink tea with for hours on end? Of course! Companionship is godly and good! But in the deepest part of my heart, I do not feel empty or unfulfilled. In fact, there are times when I am even more fulfilled and pleased and satisfied then I ever was, even when I was deeply embroiled in romantic relationships.
I feel like this is an incredible learning process for me. It's as though God has been trying to show me this for years, but that I wouldn't take the time to realize it. Then I thought - it's a little bit incredible that I feel this way. Not because it's some accomplishment - hardly so. It's incredible because culture deems unbelieveable - how could a young, eligible bachelor feel as though he has no need to be romantically involved? Let me side-step here for a second. Last week I did feel for a while that I did want to get more deeply involved with a person I went on a blind-date with, but since then those feelings have largely subsided. Is that a fluke? Actually yes. Thinking about it more led me to the conclusion that I don't actually want to see this person again - rather I'm perfectly content as I am without a dating life. Back to the unbelievable conclusion - today, more than ever, I feel like I could be more than satisfied with the relationship that I have with God, as my savior, as my friend and as my lover. It's actually kind of crazy to even write that. Most rational people might agree with me on that point. But I would bank everything I am to that truth. God knows me and loves me better than anyone ever can. He can and will satisfy me, the deepest longings and desires of my heart, better than any person ever could. And I trust in that so much that I'm actually willing to skip out on an earthly romantic relationship. If that's how God intends for me. I'm also not convinced that that's actually the case - I do believe that God has prepared someone, a companion, a lover, a wife, for me. Now's just not the time.
So while I wait, I'll resolve to do one thing - pursue God as I would a lover, knowing that he pursues me with an even greater passion. I know that I'm the kind of person who loves to give - give to the person I admire and yearn for. Something about giving satisfies me so much that sometimes I burst wanting to give. I hope, and pray, that I can have that same passion while pursuing a more intimate relationship with God. It's because I know he's a true companion. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him, says John Piper. God is also glorified in us when we passionately pursue him, knowing that we'll be satisfied when we do. For some reason I think there's value in specifying the process of pursuing God, in addition to the end goal of glorifying him (and by extension being satisfied in him). The pursuit is just as interesting to me.
I really enjoyed the drive home today, mostly because it gave me the opportunity to experience a splendid silence. I do believe that God reaches out to us in times of silence and meditation. Coming from someone who listens to noise all day long, it's an incredible relief to hear the voice of God, even if it's through the mind and through deep thought. It's incredible that God would reach out to us in this way, that he would continue to intersect with his creation, with me, as an individual. There's something so immense there, so real, so weighty, so intense.
I thought again as I was nearing my house that I don't seem to think enough about what really satisfies. That second part of John Piper's truism, about being satisfied - I think that's a subject that really needs exploration. I think about what of my main pursuits - in food and drink. As someone who immensely enjoys eating and food, I have to ask myself - why do I do it? And why does that feeling of satiation after a good meal satisfy us so much? I feel like that's something I want to discuss with my foodie friends more. I think it's something that none of us really think about very much and yet I feel like if we did, then somehow we would get closer to thinking about why satiation feels so good, so satisfying. And then if we could get to why satisfaction is so good. What's so good about things that are good? I think talking about that eventually leads us to God, because he is the perfect expression of good.
I think about that moment, when I'm lingering over a great cup of coffee. Or an amazing taste of wine. Or perhaps a well constructed course of food. Or that great taco that's sitting on my paper plate. There's an ephemeral moment when a part of your mind says, "mmmmm." It's that fleeting satisfaction that's interesting to me. How do we get more of that sensation? And what causes it? I really want to explore that.
I've been thinking about beauty again. I admire the wonderful things all around me that I seem to take for granted. I really enjoyed Indochine, a beautiful film about freedom and captivity. I almost cried. When I say I almost cried during a movie that's just the manly part of me that's not admitting that I did.
The hills in Glendale were just stunning this morning, after an entire evening of torrid rain. But even last night the rain was beautiful, shimmering streets and heavy plops that poked through my hair as I ran through it.
The light is fantastic today, piercing through, with fat wallowing clouds meandering through the northern sky and into the mountains. It's windy and sunny, my favorite kind of day, though perhaps not the best for ice cream.
The soundtrack is comprised of minimalist tunes inspired by Yann Tiersen and Phillip Glass, creating a cinematic feel. I'm already onto my second cup of coffee, both of which came from Africa. The first was this extraordinary cup that I would rate at 95 points on a scale of 100, because if its levity, grace, exquisite luxuriant mouthful, juicy flavor and inspiring finish that lingers for more than a few moments.
I haven't been able to write very much recently, not because I haven't had thoughts, but because there's been something that prevents them from getting to my fingertips. I think I should keep a journal here, one of the many unfilled Moleskins I have at home, because when I dont' feel like typing, then my hands do a good job of filling in the gap. I realize that the one thing that I can do well in the world is write, and understand how words affect the human condition. I am still so affected by writing that it can bring me to tears.
Music, food, drink, nature, film, writing - they all inspire me and show me that our Creator is one imaginative being.
I can't help it if I admire beauty that much. It's just so hard to avoid.
I seem incapable of ever settling with someone because I can't find satisfaction in just one person. I want too much, which is always going to be unfair to the other person.
I'm too susceptible to fall into a tumultuous love instead of a calm, steady, fruitful relationship.
I don't think there is anyone more complex emotionally than me but then again that has to be egotistical.
I want the simple and I want the complex. I tried both separately and it just didn't work. The only time I got close to finding that I got my heart shit on mercilessly. Maybe that wasn't strong enough more like made into steak tartare, deep fried, then thrown away to the monkeys. Poor monkeys.
I'm trying to think and now I realize that I've never had a long term romantic relationship that ended up resulting in some sort of non-crazy ending. Do all relationships end like that? It has to be me. That's the only explanation.
I need to get better at controlling my thoughts because I know God can discern them.
I need to be more gracious and understanding and less judgmental, gossipy, critical, or rude. I am a very prideful person who loves to make others feel degraded. This is a terrible trait that I would like to fix.
I sometimes wonder if I can ever truly forgive the people in my past. I say that I do but my actions just don't prove it. I know that I have experienced true forgiveness. It's something I need to spend more time meditating on every day.
I want to spend more time in meditation every day. Not the Hmmmmm like meditation but really thinking deep thoughts about my life and processing everything that happens. I feel that this is how one becomes wise.
I want to spend more time with my grandfather. He may not know fully, but he is one of the people I love most in this world. I am going to be very sad when he leaves this world to go see God. I have the hope that I will see him again one day, and this time for eternity.
I really enjoy writing. I wrote all this on my iPhone before going to sleep.
We strode past a few empty newspaper boxes, a symbol of the flailing publishing industry and the dearth of economy in general. It was twilight on a spring day, a mysterious whimsical day that somehow eluded a normal sunset. Instead the buildings of Downtown loomed abroad like towering trees in a mythical forest. Their trunks separated a cosmic light that stretched vertically across a clear sky, the rays puncturing the eyes. Samantha and I had just enjoyed a generally unmemorable meal in Little Tokyo and proceeded to take a walk down toward an emptier stretch of the borough.
"Let me take a photo of you," she said. We had been discussing the possibilities of my faux modeling career the past few days. Even though I was convinced I could pull it off, inside I knew that I wasn't quite skinny enough, and my jeans weren't as slim as the vogue dictated during those days. She pulled out her weathered film camera - a relic in those days of digital photography - and took off the lens cap. I got up onto the ledge where I let my legs hang for a while before clutching one of my knees. I looked positively ridiculous, with the cuffs of my jeans folded upwards and my hairless ankles showing underneath. I didn't know what to do with my face so I looked down and tried to be dramatic. Samantha took a snap without the flash, a tough decision in the odd light. Then she took enough with the flash. I couldn't ask how the photo looked because it needed to be developed.
As we walked toward Downtown the fullness of the apocalyptic light shone straight above us. I took and snap and later saw that my photograph had almost nearly fully captured the scene, with perhaps a purplish hue that dominated the edges.
Samantha had resurfaced after years of neglect in the friendship, if you could call it that. I made the wonderful mistake of trying to recall our storied past, something that goes back as far as our adult, and even pre-adult memory. Samantha was my first girlfriend, at least the first one I'd been willing to hold hands with and walk down the hall in nervous pride while everyone saw that we were finally a unit. I remember sensing her slight tremble, the perspiration in her nimble hands quivering as her fingers interlocked with mine. I remember that she always wore a golf jacket, perhaps in some bright color, which covered her basic printed T-shirt and bootcut jeans (which were the vogue then). Her eyes were always beguiling (I even used that word again when I met her during the Little Tokyo days), a mix of weary longing and present confusion.
Almost at an instant, the sun set and the light was gone and we were off driving toward another part of the city. I drove us through to Silver Lake and into an area between the lake and Los Feliz, to a relic of a bridge named after The Bard. The bridge went over a residential gully that was heavily wooded, the hillsides also stocked with unique homes. In the opaque night we wasted our last few exposures, both of which were overexposed and responded with overly red glares over the streetlamps.
And that was how it should have ended. A denouement instead of a furious conflagration of emotion that descended to a quagmire of guilt and passion, an affair that now seems to painful to recall. The light from that sunset on that day in Little Tokyo through me off. I think it fooled my senses into thinking that for some reason the world was going to end and that I needed to latch onto the closest thing near me.
The last time we ended our relationship, I told Samantha straight out that I didn't want to see her any more. In fact, it was harsher, it was something like, we could never see each other again. For some reason that wasn't the last time I was going to say that to her. When I met her again years later, I felt that she was the only real connection I had ever made in my life and that to lose her again would mean the end of my emotional life. I clung to her, embracing every photograph I took of our short jaunt like a precious carnelian.
I thought The Bard was a new chapter. But he's already written all that he can. Instead He reminded me of yet another trajedy, all too common and all to familiar to me. Samantha abandoned me like I had left her years earlier. She disappeared into darkness and hadn't shown her face for another number of years. Mercifully the roll had no more exposures. And no memories materialized again.
I love raul midon's song, expressions of love. the timber of the singer's voice just gets me thinking about relationships and especially the direction of my affection. I remember thinking that I was the kind of person that had to figure out that direction pretty quickly or else I'd be embittered and intractable as a person. I'm already really independent - so much so that I have to remind myself to think about others. The other day I totally didn't realize to let my parents home that I wasn't going to be home because I was crashing at Adam's house. They were probably a little peeved by that. I didn't think anything of it.
This all comes in the wake of my friend Julie trying to set me up with one of her friends - a pretty good idea in theory. Last weekend we had a brief chance to all hang out but since we had to split up after short bit, I ended up just overthinking every little thing I did. I remember trying to figure out if I looked okay. I was a little less than pleased with my hair and I was wearing some old pants that had paint marks (from the Scoops Westside construction days) that I'm trying to pull off like some Alexander McQueens (but not really). We were at Banana republic buying some boots and throughout the whole affair I realized that I seemed like a super metro dude. Not really what I was trying to portray, but I can't deny that I was really excited about buying some work boots! (which I'm wearing right now).
I thought to myself - I'm really unequipped to express who I am right now. I'm so busy mentally with Scoops that I doubt I would be able to handle anything near a personal relationship. That person would suffer the wrath of my frustrations, stress, and hard work - all of which are completely worth it because I'm really enjoying the work I'm putting into Scoops. It's so bizarre that I'm running my own business. I'm also not myself right now.
I think Julie's attempts to set me up are earnest and well-founded, but perhaps right now isn't the best timing.
But then a part of me is thinking - how great would it be to have someone in my life (that isn't my mom or dad) that can take the time to think about me. Someone to bring me food when I'm hungry or someone to call after I'm done closing up the shop. More than that, I realize that I might have been married right now if things had gone differently - I really need to start thinking about marriage because too many of my friends are married now. I'm the out one out. Not that I care emotionally, it's that I care socially. In that sense, Julie's friend would be perfect because she's already getting acquainted with my (girl) friends.
Of course it comes back to trusting in God to make it all happen, not Julie, not any of my friends. What's really essential is trying to focus on God throughout the opening of this business - knowing that every customer that comes in is a blessing - and an opportunity to portray the light of Christ through my behavior and service to them. It's been great that the shop has been quiet the first hour or so of business - it allows me to be contemplative and reflective on God and even pray while I can.
I've really been stretched spiritually in 2010. I've come from neglecting God in almost every sphere of my life to trying to make him an integral part of everything - relationships, job/work, church, friends, family, even avocations.
It's been wonderful to continually get the support of my friends - the ones who care about me and pray for me and shoe me immense love. I'm really grateful for that. I also know that perhaps God has someone in store for me to love and cherish - someone who's going to lead me and challenge me closer to Him. Maybe 2011 will be the year, maybe it won't. Either way, 2010 was an incredible adventure that I won't soon forget.