Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Not Just a Dog

 It seems ironic now that my last post involved an inspiring dog, because now I know that this one will too. Our dog Rufus was getting old and his health wasn't the best, and when I left home after fall break I knew that there was a possibility I wouldn't see him again, just as I knew that every time I left home since I started college last year. That being said, just because I knew it would happen eventually doesn't mean it wasn't a shock when it actually did, and the news was very hard to hear.
I know that some people think that dogs are "just pets" and there are certainly worse things in life than losing a pet. I know that there are many things that I could write about that would be considered more important, but I don't want to today.  This blog is about my life from my perspective, and right now my perspective is one of loss, so that is what I am choosing to write about.
     To the rest of the world, Rufus may have been just a dog, but he was much more than that to me. He was loyal, demanding, funny and unique and he taught me many lessons just by being himself. By greeting me with excitement most every time I came in the door, he taught me about love. When I was going through a time in high school where I was feeling pretty lonely and having lots of bad days, I knew I could count on his greetings to help cheer me up when I got home. Having someone that is excited to see you know matter what, even if that someone happens to be a dog, really feels like unconditional love.
     On my many walks with him, I learned about patience and enjoying life. I came to accept the fact that sometimes he would find it necessary to sniff the same blade of grass for ten minutes, and I would simply have to wait. With that carefree attitude that it seems only dogs can fully achieve, he helped me realize that sometimes it's okay to take your time and sniff the grass, or do whatever it is that makes your life enjoyable. He was a little dog, but I don't think he knew it. He did his best to be the guard dog of our family, and he would notify us with loud barking if anything he considered to be a threat, like a FedEx truck, squirrel, or perhaps a suspicious falling leaf showed up in the yard. By acting like a big dog even though he wasn't, he taught me about bravery and confidence.
      He was a quirky dog, and he made our family laugh countless times. He never seemed to understand that Christmas and birthdays weren't all about him, and it was hard to open a present without him sticking his nose in it. When I got a suitcase for my birthday this year, he climbed right into it as if it was a new bed for him. His unwavering excitement about things like that made life more fun.
     I'm so glad that Rufus was a part of my childhood. He made life more exciting, and he was simply a good dog. I'm thankful for all of the good times I had with him, and all that he taught me just by being himself.
I couldn't choose just one picture, so that's the reason for the video at the top. He was so photogenic!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

An Inspiring Piano Playing Dog

     When I decided to start this blog, I was intentionally challenging myself. I knew, or at least had been told and was trying to believe, that writing is something I am pretty decent at. I thought a blog would be a great platform to encourage me to write on a regular basis, and give other people a way to read my writing and tell me what they think of it. So far the experience has been a positive one, and I am finding ways to improve myself as I go. For instance, I have learned that honesty is important, but there are some feelings I have that it would benefit me not to share with the world in such an unfiltered way. Finding that balance between honesty and over sharing is, in my opinion, helping me become a more mature writer.
 I have also learned that the hardest thing for me about writing on a regular basis is finding something to write about. Staying inspired in the midst of everyday life can be a challenge for me, especially finding subjects in my day to day life that are worth writing and reading about. I also can be very self critical when it comes to my writing, and I feel unsettled when I know I have written something that is mediocre in an attempt to "just keep writing" even when no inspiration comes
While at an art museum recently (college students are such delinquents and up to no good, huh?), I rediscovered the child in me that secretly enjoyed field trips to places like this far past the age when it was cool to admit it. There's just something about seeing the actual, physical artwork that catches my interest beyond the level of looking at a textbook. To counter my unbridled sarcasm at the beginning of this paragraph,which I hope you realized was just a cheap attempt at humor, I will admit that it was not an entirely self-motivated venture. I had a paper to write for a class which required me to go there, but I enjoyed it anyway. The point is, while there, I found something that inspired me. Among the many pieces of artwork I saw, I found a painting that is currently my favorite one in existence. Even it's title makes me happy "Portrait of an Extraordinary Musical Dog." I just love that someone had the idea to paint a picture of a dog who appears to be playing a piano, and the fact that they chose this clever title really makes me happy.
Naturally, I wanted to talk about my museum trip on my blog to some degree, because anything that's not an everyday event is usually a source of writing inspiration for me, and this painting kept coming to mind when I was deciding what to write. At first I thought it would be silly to admit that in this entire museum of historical works of art, a picture of a dog sitting at a piano was my favorite, and even sillier to write a blog post about it, but then I realized something.
     Maybe I shouldn't be so critical of the things that inspire me, in my writing and in my life. Yes, I want to be taken seriously and I do my best to write about things that are meaningful and have substance, but maybe inspiration can also be found in much simpler things. I think somewhere in the process of becoming an adult and wanting to be treated like one, I forgot that even adults don't have to be serious about everything all the time. Yes, I am growing up and learning how to be mature, and  I want my writing to reflect that, but there is still a piece of me that gets really excited over a piano playing dog, and I hope that piece never goes away.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Build Your Own Ark

This weekend, I witnessed a performance that I still haven't figured out exactly how to describe. I'm not going to say what it was, because that would be in poor taste and if you're like me you would probably go look it up on YouTube and miss the point of this post. Anyway,what it was isn't as important as what I learned from it. I was reminded that the way I felt watching this performance that art and talent are subjective. As much as I tried to act grown up and search for the artistic meaning of what I was watching, it was all I could do to keep from laughing through the whole thing. It just wasn't my style, and simply didn't get it.
Through this experience, I was reminded of how this concept applies to me as a writer. I take a lot of pride in my writing, and it would make me very happy if everyone liked everything I ever wrote and really got what I was trying to say. But I have to learn that that will never happen. There will always be someone telling me how funny a particular post is when I'm really trying to explain a serious point, or a comment that makes me realize that someone completely misinterpreted what I was trying to say. There are probably even some people who read this blog one time and never returned because they didn't like it. Just as I didn't understand the point of the performance I watched, some people will not understand this blog.
So what do I do about this? Do I just not write at all because not everyone will like it? When asking myself this question, I thought about the story of Noah's ark. The people around him at the time probably thought it was pretty hilarious that this guy was building a giant boat because God told him that water was going to fall from the sky and flood the earth, not to mention the fact that he was going to fill this massive contraption with tons of animals. But that didn't stop him, and things turned out pretty well for him in the long run.
       I am learning to keep on going because it is something that I enjoy, something I do primarily for my own contentment but also because I feel like it's part of God's plan for me. I am beginning to understand that not everyone will like it, and that's okay.
      Like Noah, most of us will encounter people who won't understand the ark we are building, and maybe even laugh at the way we are building it. But we should keep building the personal ark that God has instructed each of us to build, because it is that very ark that will allow us to see the rainbow in the end.
This is Alex the pygmy goat, who I met this weekend. I'm glad Noah built that ark, because a world without animals like Alex just wouldn't be the same

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Through the Roof

Mark 2 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

     I just hit backspace. I tend to start off with a disclaimer about how I'm really not that wise and my faith isn't that strong right now and I pretty much have no idea what I'm talking about. But I'll try not to do that this time, because I want this to be read as if it is something worthwhile, because think it just might be.
These past few months have been a confusing time for me personally. Maybe it's just being 19, maybe I'm just too emotional, but there are some things that happen in my life that I just don't understand, and letting go of things that haven't been explained is not something that I do well.
     When I think back on the past few months, one particular thing really stands out that has been very significant to me, and that is friendship. There was a time in my life not that long ago when I did not feel that I had many friends, and it really troubled me. Thankfully, things are different now, and that is something I try not to take for granted. I was reminded a few days ago of the story (above) of a group of people who brought their friend to Jesus, and I realized what a great lesson in friendship it is. These men carried their friend to where Jesus was, and they did not give up when they saw the large crowd. They loved this friend so much that they were willing to do whatever it took to make sure he got to Jesus. They put aside their own needs for a time to ensure that this friend who so desperately needed access to Jesus would receive it, no matter what they had to do. Isn't that such a great display of what friendship should be? 
     I am thankful to have many friends like this. There have been many times over the past few months when I have felt that I just don't have any faith left, and what has kept me encouraged is experiencing the faith of my friends. (When I use the word "friends" in this post, I am referring not only to close friends that I talk to on a daily or weekly basis, but all of the people from my church and beyond who have been such an encouragement to me lately.) From the very day I realized that my plans for the summer were not God's plans, I had the support of friends, and there are countless people who have given me encouragement that strengthened my faith at it's weakest point. This experience has taught me a lot about friendship. I have experienced what it's like to be surrounded by people who love me so much that they want to make sure that I'm getting closer to Jesus even when my life is hard, and that's really an amazing thing to have. Through the example of friendship that so many people have given me, I have realized the kind of friend I should strive to be. True friends will do whatever it takes to make sure you are close to Jesus, even if they have to get you in through the roof. That's the kind of friend I'm blessed to have, and the kind of friend I want to become.