Musings, Uncategorized

[Blog] Memento Mori

As sometimes happens with the company I keep, a recent conversation made its way around to the concept of memento mori, which in turn reminded me of the Freshman year English class where I first learned about it. At the time it was one of those concepts that I got the gist of without really understanding much beyond that. This is, I suspect, a fairly standard response for an eighteen year old: we’re old enough to know that we’re mortal, but a lot of us haven’t gone much deeper than that yet. Probably because we’re all still pretty sure that we’re actually invincible. Which is likely also why I found the idea more than a little unnerving.

Which is why it’s vaguely amusing that it’s now more comforting than anything else.

I’m finite. This life will come to an end, sooner or later. There’s a limit to what I will be able to accomplish. Taken alone, that’s more than a little hopeless. But let me frame it a different way: I’m limited, which means there is a limit to the harm I can do as well. I am not responsible for the ultimate fate of the world, only my own actions. I don’t need to carry a crippling fear that I’ll screw everything up while trying to do the opposite; I’m just not that big, and the one who is takes joy in offering redemption.

I’m not sure if that’s what the medieval Christian philosophers were going for with their own meditations on the subject, but hey. This is what I’ve got.

Musings

[Blog] The Unexpected

Earlier this week, I noticed that my normal parking spot was included in a stretch of temporary no parking Wednesday through Friday, starting at 7am and going to 4pm each day: as far as inconveniences go, definitely a minor one as I’m at work for most of that period. But while Wednesdays and Thursdays normally see me leaving before seven, Fridays usually have a little more leeway and I don’t leave until closer to eight, which clearly wasn’t going to work today.

Which explains where I found the motivation to head out to a coffee shop before work this morning to get a little writing done. It’s not a lot of time, a little less than half an hour all told, but that’s half an hour more than I’ve been managing to put in the rest of this week (being sick is so much fun). I’ve wanted to do something like this for a while, just to help get back into a proper daily habit of writing, but I’ve hesitated because I’ve gone off the assumption that I’d need an hour or so to make it worth while, and I don’t have the mental fortitude to get up that early.

But now that I know that a half hour is totally enough time to get a little done, I think that might just do the trick.

Musings

[Blog] Greater Love

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
John 15:13

The above has been my favorite verse for longer than I can remember. Spoken by Christ as he prepared to go to the cross, it’s clear that it refers to dying so that others can live. But for many of us, literal life and death situations are not a part of our day to day lives. I’m still mulling the idea over, but I don’t think I’m too far off in suggesting that the verse could also refer to living for others. And in fact, I’d go so far as to say that a life spent caring for the needs of others because of the love you hold for them is actually more difficult than the actions of a heroic instant. At the very least, it requires more stamina.

Thoughts? Arguments? Counter-examples? Drop ’em in the comments!

Musings

[Blog] On Poetry

For someone who majored in English Lit in college, I’ve always had a funny relationship with poetry. Specifically, and particularly in the past, I’ve loved the idea of it and certain turns of phrase or images will stick with me and lodge in my soul or my brain, but I would often feel like I didn’t “get” the entire poem, and that would drive me nuts. I wanted to completely understand each poem I read, and it bothered me when I didn’t.

Or, in other words, I rather missed the point.

But this past week, while hanging out with a couple of friends, we started reading poems out loud from various collections by poets including Mary Oliver, Seamus Heaney, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Nuala ni Dhomhnaill, I think finally began to understand. Or rather, I began to understand that it’s okay to not understand, and in fact that might be a large part of the beauty of poetry.

Maybe it was because I was with dear friends. Maybe it was because we were reading them to each other in a non-academic setting, with no grade to earn or paper to write. Maybe it was because I’m a few years older and a little more comfortable with the idea that I don’t, that I can’t know everything. I’ll likely never know for sure.

What I do know is that I have a far greater appreciation than I’ve had in the past, and I look forward to reading much more poetry in the future.

Musings

[Blog] Freeway Exits

Sometimes, when the freeway is open and empty and the night is dark and late, I imagine skipping my exit. It would be so easy; to go home would require a choice, a turn. All I would need to do is nothing at all. Sometimes I glance down at my dashboard and the lights that indicate the state of my gas tank, and I calculate how far I could get before I’d have to refill. There are beaches I could reach, the ones I’ve driven past a dozen times but never visited, the ones that I’ve seen from the window of a car on a stormy day when the waves crashed tall against ragged pillars of rock. Sometimes I tell myself that this is the night I’ll do it, and my hand slides towards the turn signal to leave the right-hand lane even as the sign for my exit passes green and white above my head, reminding me I only have a mile and a little more to make my decision.