Monday, August 30, 2010

How Does Someone Have Soul?

Let me count the ways.

1. The Who

2. Ray LaMontagne

3. Iris Dement

4. Janis Joplin

5. James Cotton

6. Odetta

I don't know, maybe the first one is more so inescapable energy, but maybe there's no difference between that and soul?  What does it mean to have soul?  You can't exactly compare #1 with #6 for example, other than that each has its own powerful energy that can be difficult to define.   I also thought about posting stuff by Van Morrison, Jack White, and others, but I figured I should cut it off here.  I consider all of these soulful performances but have never quite found the words to define what it means to have soul.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Rebirth of Faith and Song

     Since I started running more frequently I have been thinking about what faith really is.  It seems to me that exercise is the perfect metaphor for faith.  When I went on my first run, I felt disgusting.  It was the physical activity that drew my attention to how unhealthy I was.  It would have been easy for me to say "Wow, running makes me feel horrible.  I don't want to do things that make me feel horrible because it must not be good for me."  You come to a realization of your weakness only as you challenge it.  It requires great effort to say "I am going to keep running even though it hurts so that I can push through and eventually receive the benefits."  It takes more than just two or three runs before you begin seeing the benefits or even begin making progress.  You have to make a consistent and full effort even though it's difficult for a long time.  If you only go once a week you won't really see much progress.  But eventually, by working through the pain every day, you will begin to find that running becomes easier.
     Similarly, when I make an effort to become a better person in some way or other and begin practicing things that are difficult for me, it can feel overwhelming and discouraging at first.  Whether I'm trying to improve my study habits, kindness towards others, spirituality, etc, it may seem at first like there is no hope of really changing.  But if you stop trying you'll never know.  Faith is pushing through that tough patch in the beginning (even if the tough patch seems to last for months) with the hope and confidence that eventually what was difficult will become easier and that you will grow in that particular capacity.
     Faith seems like such a simple concept, but I feel like I'm just beginning to have real, personal experiences with it.  The working through the pain, difficulty, and uncertainty; putting trust in the hope of change even though you don't have proof it will work.  And then amazingly, it does work.  I am beginning to really see the fruits of subtle labors I've been pursuing over the last few years.  And my confidence is growing.
     But something strange has happened to me in the last few years.  Something that used to be such a part of me, has become painfully distant.  I used to play guitar and sing quite a bit.  It was just something that was a part of my daily life and a part of my friendships with others.  Singing was like letting pieces of my soul touch pieces of other souls and the lovely molecules of the world around me.  When I close my eyes and imagine the sensation of playing and singing my brain somehow transforms the feelings into images and other sensations.  I can see myself all alone swinging at Penny Park in B.V. and recall the sensation of looking into the sky and allowing myself to feel as if gravity was reversed and that as I swung upward, I was actually free falling down into a sea of stars.  Then when the swing pulled me back and reminded me of the real direction of gravity, there was a rush inside as everything turned back right side up.  I get that same feeling sometimes playing music.   Or at least I used to.
     Sometimes it hurts to pick up the guitar again, unsure of why that feeling isn't there.  Maybe I just got out of the habit, and I struggle to be able to do certain things that used to be so easy to me.  Frankly, I have not been able to understand the reasons for my struggle.  I've analyzed and debated within myself.  I've tried to ignore it and I've tried to pretend it's not real.  But sure enough, when I touch my guitar again, the pain returns.  This leaves me only one option.  Push through.  It's like my first time running all over again.  Yeah.  I'm terrified that that old feeling will never come back.  But if I don't push through the initial discomfort, there will never be any way for me to know.  I long for that dizzy confusion of space and the summer night air in my face.  The commotion in the quiet and the final return to solid ground when the song is done.

Here's to faith!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Moral of the Story: The Skinny Girl Gets Eaten by the Bear

     There are certain things I avoid saying in mixed company.  For instance, anything relating to Glenn Beck.  Or, things like, "I am so horribly out of shape!"  See, I'm skinny, and a skinny girl saying something like that is likely to bring only outrage.  This is because our society has a really twisted perspective on what it means to be "in shape".  When I say "I am so horribly out of shape," this means that I can barely run a mile and that is extremely unhealthy.  I have witnessed far too many girls stand in front of the mirror with sadness in their eyes.  To them being in shape means looking skinny.  
     But let's imagine a scenario.  Let's say that there is a girl who may perceive herself as "out of shape" because she doesn't think she looks skinny enough.  Then put me next to her and imagine us hiking through the woods side by side.  If a bear jumps out of the bushes, who's going to get eaten?  The girl who has been working out most of her life trying to lose weight, or the girl who has never gone running in her life?  You guessed it.  The skinny girl gets eaten by the bear.  After all, you don't have to run faster than the bear, just faster than the girl next to you.
     I am not mocking women with body image issues.  Most women have body image issues.  Ironically, I've looked on jealously at those girls who frowned at themselves in the mirror.  We all wish we looked like each other.  Society says to one girl "You're not skinny enough" then turns right around to the skinny girl and says "Real women have curves you know."  I was teased pretty ruthlessly in middle school.  People called me anorexic, I got asked if I was a boy or a girl, and guys said right to my face, "Wow, bet you wish you weren't so flat-chested, huh?"  Society just doesn't want women to win.  So, here is my proposal.  I know it's not easy, but why can't we stop thinking so much about how we look and just start being more concerned with what REALLY matters- our health.
     I went running a week ago and thought I was going to die at one mile.  I started to hyperventilate.  That is HORRIBLE!  I eat whatever I want and I'm quickly realizing that it's led to my being weak, frail, and unhealthy.  So I've started running.  I've decided that I need to eat healthier foods and eat more to make up for all the energy I'm now expending on working out.  Ben and I have a sweet tooth like none other, but we've picked up a good habit.  When we go grocery shopping, we're always tempted to get berries but decide against it because they're so expensive.  But then we realized that if we just took the money we typically use on spontaneously buying sweets and used it instead to purchase berries, we could have a healthy dessert without spending any more money!  So a couple nights ago we went and bought a couple cartons of raspberries and ate a carton a piece for dessert- SSOOO good on a summer night!  
     There are a lot of things I want to do, like hike mountains and see beautiful places.  If I can't even run a mile, what kinds of things am I holding myself back from?  I will see so much more, I will DO so much more as I work and grow healthier.  Why isn't THAT what we focus on?  After all, it's what you do and feel that makes you beautiful.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Black & White Film Photography

These are a few projects I finished up in the darkroom today.