400 words on contrast

I like to walk through the city on my lunch. Yeah I’m sort of a loner sometimes.

It’s only lonely if I consider what other people think of my lonely self. But usually I enjoy the silence and let my thoughts take off to interesting places.

I was thinking today about the diversity in my city. Not just racially, but the sheer contrast of different types of people.  My inner cinematographer wanted to capture it on film and play it to some hip hop music with a person rapping about the differences in humanity.

Oh, if I’d only studied film.

In art school they teach you that one of the key elements of design is contrast. If art is beautiful, and design produces art, then contrast is beautiful . . .  even in humanity. Design is a combination of lines, shapes, colors, textures, repetition, and . . . yes, contrast.

Contrast is my favorite element of design, because it appears in variations.

Today I saw the concept of contrast from a sociological aspect. Humans contrasted with humans. This indeed is diversity. And this is good.

So, I sometimes struggle with understanding why diversity is good. More ingredients make the soup taste better right? But sometimes those ingredients just don’t go together.

I would say the root of a lot of societal issues comes from diverse people groups cohabiting. There’s a reason Toads and Tortoises swim in different seas. Of course there’s the truth that all people are inherently bad, and from a Christian perspective, need saving. But how do you explain the comfort that comes from like-mindedness?

I use to write about diversifying friend groups. I pushed for more variety, saying people should mix with other ethnicities, in other words stop hanging out with people who resemble you. Then I began to see how hard this really is. I realized that I myself didn’t feel comfortable around certain people. I started to wonder if people of the same ethnicity, background, and language, should just stay together.

Different is never comfortable.

But wherein lies the beauty of contrast when all the same birds flock together?

I think it helps me, as an artist (who feels emotions to the tenth degree and struggles to maintain even the simplest feelings) to see diversity as human contrast. There is a beauty in this, especially when no one is domineering the other, when both are valued and equal.

Enough said.

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This Side of Heaven

Longing for more

A golden sun gleamed through the passing buildings this morning. The pink pastel clouds on the horizon smiled as the sun touched them softly.  It was the type of morning that is somehow sacred, set apart, and simply beautiful.

 

I imagined being a photographer and crouching down in the weeds of a roadside park to capture the brilliant sunbeams shooting through the city. Yeah, my fantasy photographer self is much more adventuress than my actual self.  But anyways, I thought about how a photographer can capture a morning like this but she can never create one. You know how the weather guys can predict the forecast and the hipster youth in my neighborhood can dress for it? Well, who’s the one that sets the sun in the sky? Who calls it from its slumber to slowly rise?

 

Yeah, you’re following my drift. So why was I thinking about God?

 

I read a blog post from my friend Ana Harris. She’s a blogger recovering from chronic pain. Ana often writes about her body and something she mentioned recently was about our bodies on This Side of Heaven.

 

It may sound silly but when I saw the beautiful sunrise this morning, I felt this indescribable feeling. Was it happiness or joy or maybe sadness? Was it fear? Was it . . . . . . yes. It was that.

 

Longing.    Yearning.    Wanting.    Waiting.    Wishing.    Hoping.

 

What I saw seemed like a glimpse of the other side. I know the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Even now we live in the presence of God. But the frustrating thing about life is that there are so many bad things going on around us. And we are both the instigators and the victims of these grievances.

 

A word on feelings. When I was fighting depression a few months ago, I withdrew from reality. I stopped feeling emotions and simply lost the desire to exist. I remember forcing myself to smile, hoping to trigger that thing called dopamine in my brain that, so I’m told, is really what makes me feel happy.

 

When I wasn’t forcing a smile, I remember somehow enjoying a state of mind that pulled me out of reality. I liked it there, for reality was nothing but fear, anxiety, and sadness.

 

To feel nothing seemed a better alternative.

 

Now that I’ve come through those dark months, I still have that sense of longing. But it’s a healthy longing. One that says “I know I’m here for a time and a purpose, but still I can’t wait to be there.”

By the time I got to work the sunrise was already losing its magic. I crossed the street from my parking garage to my office and wanted to stop for a moment and look out into the horizon at the rising sun. I wanted everything to freeze right where it was. The warm air, the sun beams, the crowds, the cars.

How long must we be on this side of heaven?

 

 

The Unmarried Professional Amidst a Host of Pregnant Mothers

Baby talk. It’s something I’m not very good at. Parts of it, I’ll admit, are interesting. But babies are not my life right now. And so I honestly don’t know how to engage in such conversation.

Last night I sat with a group of mothers and soon-to-be mothers listening to them talk about pregnancy and babies.

They discussed which doctors they were seeing and which hospitals they had chosen. They went on about cravings and morning sickness. Then we moved to sympathy weight that the husbands were gaining as the wives were growing bigger. The mother who already had a child, talked about sleep schedules. There are certain techniques like feed, sleep, play, feed, sleep, play. Others nurse their child to sleep which in often frowned upon. Then we discussed where to shop for maternity clothes and how to approach a winter pregnancy as apposed to a summer one.

This went on the entire night and I sat silently realizing how removed I was from this demographic. Was I really much different? Although these women only had a few years on me, I experientially had nothing to say. We live in the same city, shop at the same grocery stores, watch the same movies and attend the same church. How can our lives be so drastically different?

And so in the dim light of a backyard barbecue, with the husbands of these wives playing corn hole next to a dying bonfire, I made a conclusion. A stay-at-home mom and an unmarried professional have actually nothing in common other than perhaps the desire to be known, recognized, and appreciated.

It was boring, if I’m honest. And it was sad, if I’m pathetically honest. Why don’t I have a husband to fight with over the name of our unborn child? Why don’t I have a baby growing in my stomach? Why am I forced to support myself, pay my own bills, and cook, clean, and shop for myself? These unwanted thoughts entered my mind as the evening progressed.

I learned a lot of new things from these women. Important things I suppose. But impractical things. Is it practical for me to know that at 32 weeks I shouldn’t travel more than an hour away from my hospital? Well, not at this point.

How to make conversation with a group of mothers? Maybe once I figure this out, the answer will be in my next blog post. Or something along those lines.