"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Saturday, April 03, 2004
peer Function: intransitive verb
Etymology: perhaps by shortening & alteration from appear
1 : to look narrowly or curiously; especially : to look searchingly at something difficult to discern
2 : to come slightly into view : emerge partly
3 : what we do to each other on the Internet
Odd, that you could feel sad when someone you never knew left.
After I had only been blogging a few months I began looking at some of the "recently updated" blogs that Blogger would helpfully offer me whenever I logged in. I'd pick a name or two and visit the blog, and see what was there.
Invariably, I would find something worthless and stupid, if I was lucky. If not, it would be worthless and stupid and misspelled to boot. But hardly ever anything good.
Until one day when I clicked on a blog titled "::sweetest.goodbye::", and I found myself transported to another world. This blog was not worthless, not stupid.
It was disarmingly vulnerable.
Here was the heart of a teenage girl named "Bek" who was dealing with all of the things that teenage girls struggle with, and inviting us all along for the ride.
I have no idea what country she is in, except that the names sound very strange to me. But as I peer into the glimpses of her life she shows the world, I can see that wherever she is, they are very much like the people here.
The Internet has done that to us, I think. All of us have had our worlds shrink to the size of a computer monitor.
I've followed Beks through the last several months, and I have dropped her a line a couple of times although mostly I just sit in the background and watch her try to balance her faith and her life and her gigantic and vulnerable heart. She shares her life in quick terse notes, sometimes about mundane things, sometimes about spiritual things. Sometimes silly (what young girl isn't?), sometimes serious, sometimes just deeply in love with her God.
It became obvious pretty quickly that this girl just wanted to be a gushing fountain of love, and be loved that intensely in return. I can remember a time long ago when I was that age and felt that way too.
For a time, things looked like they were coming together for her, you could see in some guarded statements as she placed her heart on her sleeve.
A few weeks ago, she postscripts one of her entries with:
you: thank you for the call, it was really very lovely and it really made me smile
Then, a few days later, she titles the post "new strength each day, greater faith everyday!" with the following postscript:
you: i can't believe i'm saying this.. but i.. i love you! *blush
In her trusting heart, has she inadvertently taken a great risk, greater than she thought?
The next entry is not made until thirteen days later. It is short and terse and full of pathos:
It's time to move on, sadly.
deleting this blog would be like deleting my memories. :(
so i'll just leave it for now.
That was two weeks ago. Her blog is now silent, with that one entry being the only addition after almost daily activity. Oh, and the name of the page has now changed to "I'm so tired of being here."
Beks, if you are out there, hang in there, hold onto your faith. If you are done sharing your heart and your faith with us, that's fine, but I for one will miss it. You've touched lots of people, I am sure.
In any event, thanks. I've remembered a lot, and learned a lot. I hope you are well. Great hearts like yours are rare.
Readers, if you have not met Beks, click on her link on the list to your left. Do it before its too late. Let her short unguarded innocent notes speak to your heart as well.
Then pray for her. I think she needs it.
The important thing was to love rather than to be loved.
W. Somerset Maugham (1874 - 1965), 'Of Human Bondage', 1915
Rasita - Why, oh why, did you enter this pageant?This one kind of left me with a feeling of wanting to read it over and over so I would make sure I got the point, and each time I was able to find a new meaning. Intentional? I dunno, but I liked it!
Kristal - let me tell you about my family!How cool is it when a description of your family is so neat that it makes me call my wife into the room and then email the page to my daughter? Cool enough to get in the top five, obviously!
silent tribute - You're joking, right?Wonderful entry, and a must read if you are a young and handsome unattached computer geek anywhere within a 20 hour drive of Quebec. And if you scroll down to the previous day's entry, you'll see her in the swimsuit comp... OW! Darling, why did you just kick me? You don't like me looking at what? Uh, forget I said that.
HR LADY - Princess Diana...Mother Theresa... In the list for the plain and simple fact that I totally completely agree with what she said, and loved the passion with which she said it.
There, that's that then for this time. (Read that three times fast without spitting!)
ex-pound Function: verb
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French expondre, from Latin exponere to explain -- more at EXPOSE
1 a : to set forth : STATE b : to defend with argument
2 : to explain by setting forth in careful and often elaborate detail
3 : this, righ 'chere
It occurred to me that I had never once explained the title of this blog, or if I did I forgot that I did it.
"\__Cliff Between the Lines__/" has several meanings, some more symbolic than others.
First, one of the obvious ones is that this is a place where I have promised myself to only air my true feelings, at the moment, as best I can figure them out. So remember, I am always flying by the seat of my pants here.
Second, I always "sandwich" my posting between a definition and a quote, so it is "between the lines" if you will. That helps me stay focused, and also lets me show that at least one other person thinks like I do.
There's LOTS of reasons for that, but we'll leave that right there.
Finally, I intend a lot of my postings to be read at a deeper level than they actually appear at first glance. So, yes, feel free to read between the lines when you are here, such is always my intent.
My thanks go out to each of the readers of this blog, without you I would only be crying in the silence and laughing in the dark.
Now, back to your regularly scheduled blogging...
It's important that someone celebrate our existence... People are the only mirror we have to see ourselves in. The domain of all meaning. All virtue, all evil, are contained only in people. There is none in the universe at large. Solitary confinement is a punishment in every human culture.
Lois McMaster Bujold, "Mirror Dance", 1994
This week's Blogger Idol topic is "Blogger Pageant," and we are asked to answer a beauty pageant question from Pageantclub, something I must admit that, being a somewhat paunchy, somewhat balding, somewhat 40ish guy, I am unfamiliar with. But here goes.
The Important Questions
pag-eant Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English pagyn, padgeant, literally, scene of a play, from Medieval Latin pagina, perhaps from Latin, page
1 a : a mere show : PRETENSE b : an ostentatious display
2 : SHOW, EXHIBITION; especially : an elaborate colorful exhibition or spectacle often with music that consists of a series of tableaux, of a loosely unified drama, or of a procession usually with floats
3 : Where you might win a title for impressing people by being what they want you to be.
Sometimes, you can actually taste tension.
It's nine thirty two in the evening, sharp, and this year's "Blogger Pageant" is down to the short list. We all stand backstage, nervously awaiting our next turn in front of the judges, which will be the dreaded QUESTION.
I hate the QUESTION. We all hate the QUESTION.
Earlier, we had the evening wear competition. I was confidently striking in my jet black two button shawl lapel tuxedo with red velvet vest and matching hand tied bow tie (inhale here), and sure enough I made the cut.
Next was the swimsuit competition. Amazingly, my risky gamble of wearing a 1920's style horizontal striped trunk and tank top worked like a charm. No one suspected that the tank top was really lycra, designed to hold in my 40 something paunch. I think the big fake handlebar mustache drew the judges attention away from it, too.
No pain, no gain, ya know.
The music stopped, commercial breaks over, and the Master of Ceremonies introduced the next section of the competition. We would each answer a question, one question, unrehearsed and randomly selected. We knew we were supposed to be short and sweet, meaningful and succinct in our answers.
Then one by one, we would parade out onto the stage, and under the spotlight each of us would be asked a different question. You could just smell the nervousness in the air here, as we all strained to hear the questions the others were asked.
"What teams played in this year's Super Bowl?" Sheesh, some people get all the breaks. "Uh, the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions?" Oops, thats a miss, girlfriend. You need to watch more Sunday Afternoon TV.
"Who is Sandra Day O'Connor?" Holy cow, such easy questions! Uh, no she isn't the actress that starred in "The Pajama Game!"
"What is your best quality?" That's easy. Being a caring person, right? Apparently not. According to her, its cuteness. I guess cuteness is a quality, technically.
Uh oh, I'm up.
I walk out into the spotlight, blinded to everything beyond the very edge of the stage itself. Somewhere out there are my parents and friends and my fellow bloggers, I smile dazzlingly, knowing that the caps on my teeth were worth every penny. I pose deliberately at a 45 degree angle when I reach Dave, the Master of Ceremonies, including both him and the judges in my answer. I stand proud, chest out, tensing my muscles just the right amount...
Here it comes.....come on, something easy....something simple....
"What is the greatest crisis facing America?"
Goodness. Leave it to me to get the question that is far from easy, and far from simple.
My mind flashes instantly to moments in my own childhood. Watching Bullwinkle and Dudley-Do-Right on TV, and Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights. Spending hours and hours with chemistry and geology sets. Fishing and flying kites and building treehouses. Going to Sunday School every week, and also on Sunday nights. Watching films like the Glass Bottom Boat, Peter Pan, and the Wizard of Oz, and anything with Don Knotts or Peter Sellers in it. Playing games like Checkers, Parchesi, Old Maid, Go Fish, and a thousand others like them.
Then I focus on the children of today. Playing video games that involve killing huge amounts of other people from behind a gun. Watching pounding videos on MTV for hours at a time every day, and carrying them along on their Walkmans as they leave the house, immersing themselves in a culture of anger, death, violence, wanton sexuality, and callousness. Watching movies that we would never have been able to watch at their age, and being confronted at obscene ages with concepts they should never have to deal with. Idolizing and dressing like Eminem, Brittney, and Miss Demeanor.
I see a starving world, doing everything it can to emulate our depravity. Dressing like us, moving like us, listening to our music. America, the blind Pied Piper leading the other helpless nations.....where?
After this instant's thoughts, I return to the moment.
OK, short and sweet.
"The greatest crisis facing America, Dave? Why, that's easy."
I leave it at that. There is a hushed silence in the room. I smile again at the crowd I can't see, at the judges out there in the dark, and as I walk off stage there is a smattering of applause from a few people scattered around who actually understood my answer.
The rest, the ones who did not get it, sit in silent confusion.
I think to myself that I might have blown the pageant, but maybe I planted a seed.
Behind me, the pageant goes on. "Can you name the Vice President of the United States?"
"Um, Hillary Clinton?"
The reason people blame things on previous generations is that there's only one other choice.