Play it again

I fight so hard to flesh out words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into a constructed whole. To take an idea, slippery inside my mind, and form it, shaping it into something solid and quite tangible in its own way. And then during the edits, rewriting it again, sometimes one more time with feeling. After all, like the song says, I’m saying it in my mind until I know that the words are right.

Hold on!
One more time with feeling
Try it again, breathing’s just a rhythm
Say it in your mind until you know that the words are right
This is why we fight

As the pianist takes a musical idea, a sense, an emotion, a reply, and pushes it forth into the notes of the music. Practicing it again and again… one more time with feeling. Performing it before a crowd of unseen faces…

Play it again… one more time with feeling.

As the songwriter crafts a melody out of scraps of notes. A song to steal the darkness away…

It can be ridiculously hard to come up with feeling, especially where it counts. Or does this absence of emotion occur because where there is evidence of feeling, there is failure of expression? If so, this failure is a sad excuse and proof of our inadequacy.

Then again, it is not always easy to pour your heart out freely. In fact, there are times when it really becomes quite hard. How can you go on when it feels as if there’s no moon in your sky? Those times are when breathing in and out is a sort of rhythm. Try it again, and again and again and again, even though the numbness is pervasive, threatening to steal the light away and the movement from your bones.

Live and survive, even though your scars are twisted. Play on, even though your piano is broken.

After a while, you can do that which is an impossibility — feel again, for there are too many who have yet to regain this.

By the writer and the musician and the poet and the artist’s own battles and eventual victories, we may in turn help others to feel, and come alive again.

This is why I fight.

Inspiration: One More Time With Feeling by Regina Spektor, from album Far

All photos are under a CC license and used with permission. Click photos for credits.

Tear Down These Walls

To everyone who commented on the last, thank you for your support. For a bit of background on this post, click here. Also, for the record, I’m doing great, now. I was proved very very wrong and I am thankful for that.

If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy
I can only conclude that I was not made for here
If the flesh that I fight is at best only light and momentary
Then of course I’ll feel nude when to where I’m destined I’m compared . . .

I’ve never felt as if I truly belonged anywhere.

I briefly felt as if I belonged when I went to youth group. When I served in youth group. But was that because I forced myself to belong simply as a means of ingratiation to the one I looked up to? I don’t know. After a while, I realized that my mistakes had been dragging me down all along, preventing me from truly belonging. It was my own fault. And because of those mistakes, I can not go back to the same place, to the same people, and allow them to accept me again. I’m afraid that I’ll let them down perhaps again.

It is similar whenever I move to a new place. Right now I’m at a music festival where my piano teacher has honestly told me that I’m not the best; in fact, I’m among the worst simply because of my lack of experience and no care to proper technique before I came to college, among many other things. He wanted me to come here to be inspired, mainly. At the same time, I’m supposed to be able to perform a few pieces in front of people who would know that the instant I place my fingers on the keys that I’m a fraud. I heard it in my mind when I laughed at his jokes. When I shook hands with the person at early check-in. When I shook hands with the lovely young Korean lady pianist from Juilliard. Fraud. Fraud.

Just looking at this picture makes me feel really depressed...

As if they already know that I have no chance.

Fraud…

I’m really not as together as I’d like to make myself out to be. Most times I’m desperately trying not to give in.

I understand that this is a place where hard work simply isn’t enough. I’m going to have a lot of learning to do, that’s for sure. That’s okay, although it worries me. I think I might be prepared for that.

It’s not just that I’m worried about, though.

I’ve always been a painfully shy person. He tells me that I am “socially awkward.” It is true… and I have become even more so after that mistake I made a couple of years past. This past mistake I have already repented from and moved forward, but I am still such a long way from where I’m supposed to be. Sometimes I feel as if the scars will never go away. I’m afraid of letting myself near. Of letting people come to close to me. Is it because I don’t want them to find out how hopeless and empty I truly feel? Is it because I’m afraid that the darkness inside of me is contagious and they’ll get sucked in, too? Of letting them become aware that I am yet another truly broken individual who feels so very helpless?

Am I lost or just less found?
On the straight or the round-a-bout of the wrong way?
Is this a soul that stirs in me, is it breaking free, wanting to come alive?

I am so afraid of what’s inside of me.

And the walls that I’ve put up around myself have become a very part of my existence… to the point that I don’t even know how to take them down any more.

Is this all melodrama? Spare me…

For my comfort would prefer for me to be numb,
And avoid the impending birth of who I was born to become

I know that I am going to try my best even if I am only doomed to failure. I hope that won’t be the case.

I couldn’t sleep the first night, thinking about my mistakes and trying to move beyond my scars. So I’m sitting here on a Sunday morning, with no internet (which is why this will be posted some time later), trying my best to be brutally honest for once in my life. Desperately listening to Brooke Fraser’s C.S. Lewis Song, which is where these lyrics are coming from, and trying to let myself be reassured that everything is going to be all right. Trying to find that peace of God that everyone talks about but has been elusive for me at best.

Speak to me in the light of the dawn
Mercy comes with the morning
I will sigh and with all creation groan,
As I wait for hope to come for me

In spite of all of it, I think I am afraid.

Afraid that I will make more mistakes — mistakes that will leave more scars. Afraid that once they really know how much is going on they won’t be able to accept me.

Afraid that I’ll not truly belong here, either.

Hope is coming for me

— C.S. Lewis Song, Brooke Fraser

All photos are under a CC license and used with permission. Click photos for credits.

Afraid

The post I am going to post next is something I wrote some time ago, right when I went to the music festival. That was four weeks ago. When I first arrived, I didn’t have internet, and so I didn’t really have anything to do. I’d been afraid for a while of a lot of things, and suddenly they came spilling out. I was away from home for the longest time I’d ever been away from home — not that I was homesick, it was just the change. That compounded with nothing to do and some unexplainable factors just makes me feel depressed for some reason.

I apologize for the personal nature of the work and realize that it might be difficult to read due to that, but at the same time I feel as if feelings like what I had are the kind of feelings that people do face fairly often. When those feelings come, they are crippling. We all are afraid of a lot of things. Some of these things are silly — when I look at my post I realize that the things I was afraid of were pretty silly and stuff I shouldn’t have been afraid of at all.

But while they eat at us, these fears are very real.

We need to do what has to be done — go on in spite of our fears. Acknowledge our own weaknesses rather than avoid them.

Acknowledge the fact that we can gain the strength to go on from other sources, like the encouragement of our family and friends, and God.

And by going on and walking through our fears we can master them.

I’ve stalled posting it for a while, but it needs to be said. Honesty, especially about struggles, is very very hard but I need to be better at it.

By the way, I found myself accepted, and fitting in well. And I did have a chance — I performed once in public and it was okay, though not great. What matters is that I performed, got experience, learned stuff, and will do better in the future. I learned so much, and hopefully I am a better musician for it. I even had fun. A lot of it.

I know that some of my friends from the music festival may be reading this. If you are, then thank you.

Thank you for everything.

The post in question is going up tomorrow.

All photos are under a CC license and used with permission. Click photos for credits.

Why do you hate Christmas?

I’m not accusing anyone. I seem to notice that there’s some sort of Scrooge effect that’s existing. “Bah humbug, I hate Christmas.”

But why? Is it because of the general selfishness? Is it because of the horrible hustle and bustle that occurs as Christmas approaches and humans frantically rush around to get everything ready for the holiday? Is it because as the hustle and bustle gets worse, tempers fray, people snap, and children cry as they receive presents they never wanted?

Is it because we have become so selfish that Christmas no longer means what it used to? I understand if some of us aren’t Christian and as a result don’t take the Christ’s birth into account. But Christmas should be a time spent with family and friends. It should be a time that one takes to express love, whether that love be expressed by means of presents, time, cooking, laughter, etc.

Is it because we’re not sure we feel the love anymore? Is it because we have become too selfish to feel it? Or too hurt to feel it? Or too busy to feel it? Or too jaded to feel it? Or we don’t have anyone to love?

Or have we all become too cynical?

This is all just speculation, and I don’t know for sure.

For me, Christmas will always mean the love of God expressed as the gift of Grace. It never was about Santa… though I do appreciate the presents that I receive, and the people who gave me the presents. It never was about the hustle and bustle (which I managed to avoid by buying things online). It was always about love. Call me an idealist, but that’s how I think it should be.

Merry Christmas. Stay warm.

A Day in the Life of an Angsty Teenager

Periods of sunshine and happiness interjected with periods of depression and self-loathing at my own inadequacy to measure up to standards. Whose standards? Probably mine. I can’t do anything right, I can’t play piano, I can’t write, I can’t psychologize people (yes, I just made up that word), and I want someone to shoot me now because I got an A- and that is the most horrible thing ever. And it’s raining and I don’t want to walk across Huxley to get to Smith to practice piano because it’s flooded and I’ll get wet.

Then there’s the times that I ask, “What have I got myself into?” Can I really do this? Can I prove to people that I’m not too young, I’m not too immature, I’m not too… too short? Can I prove to myself that I have what it takes? I worry.

It’s at moments like those that I wish I could say that I’ve outgrown that phase, but I realize that I haven’t.

Sadly, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of negative thinking. Stop talking about yourself and how bad you are, for goodness’ sake. The whole world knows you think you’re inadequate. The whole world might even tell you that you’re inadequate. But you know that you can do all things in Christ who strengthens you, and that he is enough for your inadequacy.

And move on. I’m sure we can probably figure that we were meant for greater things than this.

Meanwhile, you’ll probably find me in Smith, arranging piano covers of Brooke Fraser and Regina Spektor. Apologies to my piano teacher in advance.

PS: the covers never did get arranged for some reasons I don’t have time to go into.