What is your center of gravity?
You can notice what your mind is orbiting by observing what happens when you try to stop thinking. Go quiet for a second, and see what automatically pops up in your brain. Or if you start doing something brainless, like vacuuming, what is it that you start thinking about? It can be work stuff, if you’re in a productive flow, it can be problems, or it can be something completely removed from your own life, something from a book or tv show (as it often is for me).
What are you orbiting?
And then, once you realise it, what do you want it to be? And how do you change, or control it?
Through this: What you focus on becomes magnified in your life. It starts to take up more space. It becomes something that’s there in the back of your mind, even when you do other things. So, take your attention and choose what to aim it towards. Make sure it’s the right thing.
To me, it’s a bit like a solar system. I’m planet earth, and I close my eyes and think about what I’m orbiting.
Life is a little bit like the stairs up to my apartment.
I walk up two stairs and come to a big window, where I can see half the sun over the roof of the building next doors. Then I walk up a couple more stairs, and by the next window, the sun is shining golden in my face. I feel it in my back as I continue walking. But it’s darker on the next platform, always a little bit darker on the platforms by the doors until I turn around again and take the stairs up to the next window. And finally by my door, I open it and walk through the corridor. And suddenly I’m in the living room. And suddenly I can sit still for a bit in the sunshine.
That’s what it’s like to deal with things. They get better, but then it gets a bit darker again. We see more light, but then we keep going upwards and it feels like we’re moving away from the sun. But we’re just moving higher, and as time goes on we’ll end up in a place where we can see it better than ever before.
(But even then, being healed does not mean always seeing the sun. It just means dwelling in that high place and knowing that we all have our own ways of moving through light and darkness.)
You learn more from the sky if you study it as a poet than as a scientist.
(That’s a sentence that just kind of “sound good”, but I mean it very seriously. I chose an extra astronomy class in school as if it would bring me deeper into the mystery of open space, but most of the lectures were spent memorizing complicated mathematical formulas that described the distance between stars, and I got answers in amount of light years, but it wasn’t really what I was searching for.
I was thinking about it lately, because I was looking through the Narnia books and read this:
“In our world a star is just a big ball of flaming gas.”
“Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is, but only what it is made of.”
And I was thinking that stars can feel so non-romantic when we’ve learned their chemichal/biological components. But on the other hand we know that people are mainly made out of simple H2O, and that doesn’t seem to take the magic out of us. We know that we’re more than what we’re made of. Maybe it’s the same with the things in nature that science seems to have taken the mystery out of.)
I guess because it’s what poetry does, it doesn’t try to erase the mystery, it tries to carry you deeper into it.
What if we all would stay
a little bit longer
before we leave our moments
before stepping into the next
(Then maybe we would stop)
leaning awkwardly against our own ribs
instead sinking into the armchair
of every moment
that makes up our lives.
Lately I’ve been trying to stay ‘a little longer’ in every moment, just before I do something new. And I’ve realised that it’s easier to wait an extra 60 seconds before you go on your phone than it is to decide that you won’t even look at instagram for a whole night. And it proves to you: your own self control – in case you want to not look at your phone the rest of the night. You cut off habit and make an actual choice.
You sit down in your bed, pick up your phone, and then you put it down again. Stare straight ahead. Think a little bit. Be with God, be with yourself. Maybe close your eyes. And then you can pick it up again.
Let every moment linger. Think a bit. Realise something new, write something down. More starts growing in your mind. Such is the nature of the sitting down.
Life is lived in the tension, and tensions there are many; To take control over your own life, while simultaneously accepting the leadership and sovereignty of God. To in storytelling share and show, while simultaneously hide the necessary parts. Living out your identity while simultaneously seeking it.
I’m workin on moving the center of control into myself, instead of letting circumstances or surroundings design and decide me, but I need to flow like a river in this, sensitive to that small, great (once again: tension) voice telling me to change direction.
You can be strong and centered while still letting the whirlwind of contradictions exist inside of you. For maturity, it’s essential that you are.
I read somewhere recently:
“Christ didn’t die for your dreams, he died for your sins.”
And it’s so true. Let’s precede this with saying that of course God has a calling for your life, and of course he has amazing things he wants to lead you into, and dreams he has put into your heart. But he did not die for you to finally be able to get on that airplane and live that lifestyle you’ve always wanted to. He did not die for you to finally have that new job opportunity, savings account or success. Christ died for your sins. He died for you to be a new creation, pure and blameless, whether you’re in a minimum wage job or have an office with a skyline view. The main thing he died to bring you into is himself. Away from damnation and into eternity. That’s what we have waiting for us, that’s the life we have, changed and free, at a fancy restaurant patio or out on the streets.
And here’s the thing, I stood close to it, leaning on the window pane. But I wanted to sit down. If I turned around there was the square of light, reflected on the sloped ceiling next to our kitchen table. And so I straightened up, and the sun was not on me anymore, and it was dark. But then I went and sat down on a kitchen chair and there it was again, bright and golden, filling up my whole field of vision even when I closed my eyes. And it was so stupid, I thought, to think that the sun would be less bright here. Maybe the sun is so bright in itself that it will still be quite bright, even if you move ten meters further away. And I think I do that all the time with God, feel like I’m moving further away, but truth is that I just need to sit down in the light and it won’t matter that much whether I’m ten meters further away or closer. Maybe I just need to stop worrying about the darkness and come to the light in the first place.
Through one of our apartment windows fell a square of golden light. There were rain drops on the window, and a dark grey sky overhead, but at the edge of the horizon there was a sliver of bright sky, and in the midst of it the sun shone brightly into the hooded windows of our loft. I had to take the trash out, so I did, but halfway down the stairs the sun didn’t shine in through the windows anymore, having already dipped too close to the horizon and our neighbouring building hid it, and so I was scared that I would not be able to see it again and stand there and look at it while it set like I’d planned. And so I think that’s what it’s like with nature, you can’t see a beautiful evening sky and think that you’re gonna paint it later, you have to drop everything you’re holding and do it right now. There is no procrastination in nature, only time for different things. Right now the grey has lifted, and even though the sun has set the sky is still bright blue, and the lines of clouds golden.
(Also I did make it, when I walked upstairs again the sun waited for me on the fourth floor, and on our fifth it still shone through the kitchen window.)
I have a decision page in my notebook. It’s so that when the contradicting emotions come rolling I will remember that I already decided something and that it’s what I’ll do regardless of what doubts I have. Otherwise decisions aren’t worth anything.
You place such high demands on your choices. What you choose now will not necessarily fix all your insecurities, your self control or procrastination. But it can help with something. You can choose something that is good for your art. Or brings you closer to nature. Or happier in only some sense. Choose one criteria and don’t close your eyes to everything else, but you don’t have to worry about it either. Let yourself make a choice that solves one of your problems.
My doubts about what I’m doing with my life are unhealthily dealt with by me creating a persona that I feel is allowed to do what it is that I want.
Because here’s the thing, maybe I would myself only support someone in my situation if they were far enough removed from me. If they were a fun artsy character that I could be amused by and get inspiration from. If they were “normal”, maybe from my village, a completely ordinary person, I would instead be slightly annoyed and feel that they shouldn’t be allowed to do that. My own internalized fear that I’m not allowed, fundamentally: jealousy. If they’re a character however, someone far enough removed from us, we don’t have to feel guilty about us not doing what we want with our lives.
We turn ourselves into the charicature of a role in order to gain some heavenly allowance to walk a certain path. Or other people’s allowance. Or our own allowance, since it’s our own belief about our insufficiency that we subconsciously push onto other people. And maybe I went the crazy artist route instead of the normal missionary one because it’s easier. Because my charicature of the slightly crazy, flighty artist is simple compared to my idolized charicature of missionary, a holy mix of some old school mother Theresa and present day social ball of sunshine, spotless and unattainable.
But the truth is: you’re allowed to remain an ordinary person while pursuing an extraordinary life. In fact, I think it’s absolutely essential.