Sometimes, when I get to thinking, I think about the making of the world. Of what’s under the hood and what can be designed and planned for and what can’t.
Like planning cities, for example. It sounds so very interesting, and then it makes my head hurt too badly, and I have to stop thinking about it. As a little aside at the end of the last class, my physics teacher threw something out there about a Mexico City earthquake and how the mid-range height buildings (like hospitals) were completely devastated, worse than the tallest buildings or the shortest buildings; he explained the physical reason behind it (which made my head hurt), but mostly cautioned that you have to plan about these things. How confounding. So many things to plan for.
I categorize peoples’ styles. I step into their house or apartment, and I take a visual snapshot of the inside of their head. I look around my living space and wonder if I’m representing who I am, and if I’m not, what should I do instead? We build ourselves by accident, mostly. I walk through stores, and I look for people. Abby needs that mug; Marianne would love that clock. The cake platter would be in my kitchen, if I had my own kitchen. I don’t see things, because things break and wear out. I see stories, and pictures of homes, growing up around objects.
We talk about technology, and what is changing and what is not. I say technology is just a tool to get you where you want to go; and then people ask me where I want to go. It’s a good question, but I don’t see where it could take me that I want to go. I want to work with my hands. I want feel things–sound deep inside my chest, taste every ingredient in my food, colors without the luminous glow of a screen. Technology can do my laundry, maybe.
I think about genres, about scenes and setting throughout time. Some people decide they don’t like the scene and setting they’re in, and they mimic a different one–a different time, a different style. Why? What do they not like about their current setting that they think they’ve found a solution to in their pretend world? If I made an alter ego, who would she be and why?
I hear a lot of people say we need to live more simply, or it was a more simple time. I wonder what they think changed, or what feels complicated to them–but I know what they mean, too, when I make simple food. It’s more satisfying. But what would you get rid of, to make it simple? I heard another story–I’m sure there are many–of a woman who sold almost all of her belongings and spent a year living out of her car, driving around the nation. She wanted to see what she really needed, I guess. I’m no good at playing those games, because there’s so little you really need. What would you want the most to keep with you is a different question than what you need.
Somebody else talked about how in his writing class, he makes everyone go through their pockets and bags and wallets, or if they’re so horrible as to not carry things around with them, their memories of the things they have on windowsills and desks. Then he makes them choose the most irreplaceable thing, and write about it and what it means to them. I thought about it briefly and felt very odd that I couldn’t answer it. I don’t carry anything around with me, except for replaceable things. The irreplaceable things–family photos, projects I spent years working on–can’t be carried with me. If you got rid of those things and I never knew it, would I notice? So many things tucked away for safe keeping; but it is it bad I don’t have meaning in the small things?
I went down for an almost week long trip, and I took a plane. I packed everything in a carry on bag and an over-head piece of luggage. It was plenty livable; I would miss having my own kitchen and my own bed, and if I was going to do it for long, I would have to find some way of bringing along my creativity. My sewing machine and my keyboard were investments for me that I hoped would last me a huge portion of my life. I paid more for my car, of course, and it will need to be replaced sooner.
I’ve started a stone wall out by my garden. I love stone walls. I don’t know how meaningful that stone wall will be for me, but I need to build it, so I can build other stone walls–more and more. I need to put making stone walls inside of me, so I can always make them wherever I go. I feel sad when I see good architecture, old architecture–falling away to time. Who will make the beautiful things now? Are we loosing them all? How do you make beautiful things? I want to make the beautiful things that people want to hold onto.
Staring around my grandmothers house, I see her hand everywhere. I don’t agree with her style or her taste, but I see her hands. I think about houses, and I wonder how many people live in them, and I wonder what that means. What is living? Is it worth the time it takes to have your fingerprints on everything? If you’re living, will you have something meaningful crammed into your purse? Someone once said that she always carried around a little bottle of bubble soap in her purse, to blow bubbles with. I loved the whimsy of that; I almost wanted to go out and buy bubbles for my purse. But I would never use them, and I know that, and it makes me kind of sad. I put band-aids and safety pins in my purse, but I never use them, either. Just my wallet, phone and keys, mostly. And a pen and a piece of paper and a small tape measure.
There’s a tree that’s fallen down, just across the road, and I wonder why. God started a tree and then smote it. He destroyed the Moabites, and it grieved Him. He loves His creation, even the tree that fell across the road. The world and the history it contains–He planned it all. All of it. He created a hole in this history and creation shaped just like me, and made me to fill it, and I don’t understand that, either, any more than the tree.
In our makings and shapings, we do reveal ourselves and what we value. God did, too, and we’re a testimony to his presence as much as the fake flower wrapped around my grandmother’s curtains reveals her. Sometimes it seems like an impossible burden; how could God ever be reflected in me? The only answer I’ve found so far is to delight in His creative vision, in the hole in history He shaped for me.
To stop walking by when the old lady by the side of the road wants to talk. To wear striped shoes, and to sit in front of the physics class, making eye contact with the teacher and trying to understand. To paint bad paintings and take pictures of broccoli. To let a duckling hide in my hair, and to sing songs about the Moon River, and to drink water out of a glass pitcher. To paint my bedroom green and the bathroom yellow and forget to make my bed. To write, even when no one is listening, and smile at the people who walk by you in the library, even when you don’t know them. To feel silent and invisible and to leave your mark on every thing you touch.
“We are, we are the visible invisible
We are the flesh and bone
Of Your redeeming love
We are, we are Your kingdom unshakeable
Jesus Christ alive in us
The visible invisible. . .”
More Than Rubies, Visible Invisible.