Sunday, August 26, 2012

In the Galaxies of an Eye

I have never publicly shared my poems (I don't write them very often anyways) but since I have a blog, I have decided to sheepishly make my debut. Sharing personal poetry is like standing in front of an audience naked. It's like turning my heart inside out. But I think I am in a safe place so here it is: (Ick!)

there are galaxies of  galaxies in an eye
it may be in there,  you know
the answer to a soul's yearning for meaning
it's somehow in the glitter of an eye

a question that lingers and returns
as the soft blades of baby leaves turn brown
and the delicate membrane of a dew drop gives way
to the inevitability of the passing of a season
and the inevitability of its return

leaves come back in blossoms of buds
dews arrive wrapped in aqueous blankets
they forget their fleeting existence
the soul receives no comfort

but in the stillness of our heartbeats
I notice the galaxies of another's eye

maybe the answer is in there
in the sparkle,
in the beauty
in the mystery
in the love
of a soul that doesn't want to wait
but is ready to fly

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Silent Noon

This is my all-time favorite English song. The marriage of the poetry (Rossetti) and music (Vaughan Williams) is absolutely breath-taking. It kills me every time I hear it. "The twofold silence was the song of love." Who knew?!?!

Silent Noon

Your hands lie open in the long fresh grass--
The finger-points look through like rosy blooms:
Your eyes smile peace. The pasture gleams and glooms
'Neath billowing skies that scatter and amass.
All round our nest, far as the eye can pass,
Are golden kingcup-fields with silver edge
Where the cow-parsley skirts the hawthorn-hedge.
'Tis visible silence, still as the hour-glass.

Deep in the sun-searched growth the dragon-fly
Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky:--
So this wing'd hour is dropt to us from above.
Oh! clasp we to our hearts, for deathless dower,
This close-companioned inarticulate hour
When twofold silence was the song of love.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Meaning of Meaning

I must have written 3 or 4 different versions of this post and virtually ripped the pages out of the screen, scrunched them and threw them on the floor. I've been trying to articulate what I have been feeling the last couple of months about life. The problem with that is I think too much in circles and paralyze myself. The perennial questions that tailgate every endeavor I undertake are: What is the meaning of this? How does this enhance the meaning of my life? And eventually, what at first looked like an endeavor that seemed meaning-enhancing turns out to be just another illusion. So, I have been asking myself, what really is meaningful? What am I looking for? What do I want out of life?

The easy answer is happiness. We all want to be happy. But it gets more complicated when we start asking ourselves what brings us lasting happiness. Buddhist philosophy tells us it is non-attachment and finding the quiet constant behind the loud variables of perceived reality are what bring us true happiness. I think that's true: finding joy in being. When I get quiet and feel my heartbeat, I am grateful for the life I have been given. There is a lot to be thankful for. But we are meant to do more than just breathe and let our hearts beat and be grateful for our lives although I think that's a good place to start. Maybe it's because I don't fully understand Buddhist philosophy, but if I am just happy in being, I would be the laziest person on earth. I gotta do something!

My biggest fear is that at the end of my life, I would look back and wonder what my life could have been if I were courageous. I am afraid of not utilizing and cultivating my talents and dying in regret. Sometimes I wish I wasn't so artistically inclined and instead liked blood and guts so I could be a doctor. (At least if I tried hard enough, there would be an end in sight. And a job!) Trying to "make it" in the arts is difficult. It's tempting to sell out for the sake of convenience and comfort. But I know at the end of the day, I would be miserable knowing I am not living the life I want to live. The flip side of doing what I want to do, however, is terrifying. Uncertainty abounds. I have to plow though a labyrinth of obstacles not knowing when it's going to end. Call it a gift or a curse--even with the odds highly stacked against me, I can't back down. I've gotta try.

Maybe it's because of my dedication to developing my talents (and its attachment of purpose and meaning to my existence), many important things take secondary place in my life like marriage and family. Maybe it's because I grew up in a broken home that I don't have this earnest desire to be a wife and mother to someone. But there are many moments when I feel lonely and long for a companion that I could rely on when things get tough. If there is a man with whom I can feel at home and accepted despite my failures, I think I would be open to marrying him. And maybe, I may even feel encouraged to try without the fear of failure and judgement. Then, he would become meaningful to me. He would be congruous with my life's purpose rather than intrusional. The hardest part would be to let go of my pride and let him see all the imperfections. Ah, the useless pride... And kids--I have no idea how they are going to fit into my life's purpose. I like kids. I actually love them. I guess I'll have to have them first to see why they mean so much.

So, all this rambling is really meant to clarify one thing for myself: I want to live a meaningful life. And that means living a happy, satisfactory life that allows me to fulfill the measure of my creation. And my creation is full of stuff to give!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Between Here and There: Navigating in No Man's Land

I have been doing some reading and researching to find/define my truth to be more clear about which set of moral codes and existential compass I want to follow to make better sense of life and the universe. This journey has taken me to conclude that all religious institutions are man-made. But I see the need for humans to create institutions for a collective sense of purpose and meaning. I admit that a lot of good comes out of religion and I personally have benefited from being Mormon. But the perks of being Mormon notwithstanding, I have stopped going to Church.

I think the only time I have ever enjoyed going to Church was when I was a missionary a decade ago. And the only reason I enjoyed it then was because I could sit for 3 hours straight without having to plan, teach, knock on doors, or feel guilty for not being a good enough missionary. The only aspect of Church that I enjoyed before and after my mission was a social one. I went to Church to see my friends when I had them. When I didn't, I would go out of habit, obligation and/or the fear of judgement if I didn't go. But I saw how futile my efforts were. I was there only in body. I always checked out mentally as soon as I sat down in Sacrament Meeting.

I stopped going to Church for many reasons. I questioned the truthfulness of the Church. I always had a problem with the Church claiming sole proprietorship of Truth. (This church is the one and only true Church on the face of the earth!) I lost my testimony of the Book of Mormon, Restoration, and Joseph Smith. I didn't feel spiritually fed or nourished in Church meetings. I was annoyed by the teachings in the Church that just regurgitated the simple-minded rhetoric of keep-the-commandments-and-you-will-be-blessed-and-will-prosper-and-be-happy without regarding the complexities and paradox of life's events. I never cared about hearing the testimonies of others about food storage, what they did over the weekend, how much someone loved somebody in fast and testimony meetings. But I cared about how mind-numbingly boring all the meetings were. Eventually, Church ceased to be meaningful to me.

Curiously, or perhaps not so curiously, I am still emotionally attached to the Mormon Church and being a Mormon. I was born and raised in the Church. Even though I was inactive for many years in my youth, Mormonism was my first religious language that articulated my metaphysical cosmos. It gave me a God that I relied on when life got sad and painful. It told me there was hope when misery abounded. It taught me how to pray. It taught me to be kind. It became my culture, my family's culture. It became my identity.

So, even though I left the Church physically and intellectually, I still have a soft spot for Mormonism. And if I find a good ward, I might even return but on my own terms: without a testimony of the Restoration but with respect for an institution that promotes good things.


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