The Giving Tree

March 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

I realized something tonight that I’ve never realized before. Which is why I am sharing it even though it could be construed as angst or complaining. It isn’t, I swear. It is simply something I have wanted to understand for a long time (what is the real reason why love hurts) and this has brought me closer to a possible answer. Here we go:

This is weird, but I think I’m finally starting to get the story of the Giving Tree. It is a story of the most complex, painful conundrum of love (any and all love, not just romantic). I never realized before just *how* complex and *how* painful.

Basically, for those of you who don’t know,The Giving Tree is the children’s story of a tree who is friends with a kid. The kid keeps asking the tree for more and more parts of itself so he can take those parts and use them to succeed in life (i.e. build a house and get married and stuff). The tree gladly gives these things because it loves the kid. But it ends up alone and stripped of its tree-splendor, waiting and waiting for the kid to come back. Eventually it is a pathetic (or is it a majestic) stump, all alone in the forest. Finally, at the end of the story, the kid, now an old man, has exhausted everything else and he remembers that one friend who has always been there and he comes back to sit quietly on the tree and the tree is glad. It’s a moving little story, but I guess it never really hit me fully before now.

Truly loving people means that you will give to them gladly even if it costs you. But so often, what you give them is the means for them to move on. You help them away from you. The kid in this story wasn’t horribly selfish–he had a life to live, after all, and things to accomplish–and the tree wasn’t being taken advantage of. It knew very well what it was doing and chose to do it happily nevertheless.

But that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t alone, that it didn’t wait and wait breathlessly for years, that those years didn’t hurt.

Helping people by giving of yourself seems like a good way to win the love and accolades of others. But in reality, it won’t–or at least it *shouldn’t*–get you there. If you are not willing to be sustained simply by knowing that the people you love have been able to do what they wanted in life, then you will end up feeling drained and resentful.

I think the stereotype of love is that it is difficult because people ask too much. But that isn’t it. If you love someone, you cannot give them enough. But in reality, being–even very imperfectly–like the Giving Tree is hard because  you can’t help hoping every day that there will be someone eventually who will come back without anything to ask. Each day, people walk up and you hold your breath, but none of them came back just to sit a while. And that creates an ache. After a while all you want is somebody to love who takes that love and holds it nearby, who isn’t being helped to somewhere else, someone else, something else. But even if that never comes, you’ll keep giving and giving happily because…well…because you love. You have years and years of waiting left in you.

Surprises

February 28, 2012 § 1 Comment

Remember a few posts ago, when I talked about not getting to study abroad in NYC next year? Remember how I wondered what God was up to?

Well, it’s still like walking forward with my eyes closed. I tried to head for NYC, and felt the path collapse. Now I’m heading a different direction. I can’t say for sure this one will hold up either. But so far, an amazing number of things have fallen into place.

Basically, with class schedules for next year about to be released, I decided I should get my next two years sorted out. I had thought of changing my CMCO concentration away from directing and towards writing and wanted to clear this with my prof. When we sat down to look at what classes I still had to take, a new idea came up. I seemed to have a lot of credits completed. Maybe, if I tried, I could graduate a semester early and save some time and money…no, wait. Maybe I could graduate a full *year* early.

Wait…what?? I had never even considered this as a possibility. By the time I left my prof’s office, it was still a rough hint of an idea. Last night I prayed that if this was God’s will, things would start lining up really dramatically. Today I visited an academic advisor and within 30 minutes she had a straightforward schedule laid out in which I could graduate a year early. Not a single one of the classes I needed conflicted with meeting times.

So now I have a big decision to make. It feels a little scary–like having to grow up sooner than I expected. My best friends are here, and the world is big and uncertain. But it also feels like a huge blessing and an exciting possibility. I still have a few more people to talk to so maybe this won’t come through after all. I’m going to wait and see.

But finishing college with a double major in 3 years? That’s something I never even considered, and if the NYC semester had worked out, I wouldn’t have even noticed the possibility until it was too late. Fascinating.

I have a lot of praying and thinking to do in the next few weeks and any prayers for clarity in this area would also be appreciated.

All Sorts of Things

February 21, 2012 § 1 Comment

I know I’m tired of long posts about hard brainy topics, and you might be as well. So today I’m just going to deliver fun facts about the latest news in my life.

::The weekend was a banner one in that I used my sandwich-squisher (ok, it’s called a panini-maker) for the first time. Italian bread, tons of butter, chicken, provolone cheese, and garlic powder = a really good toasted sandwich. We also re-arranged our living room–basically just flipped it, except now my “homework spot” is leaning with my back against a mini-fridge full of drinks. Which I don’t mind at all!

::More profoundly, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and I suspect that my real love is in writing, not directing. With that in mind, I’m going to re-focus my last two years of school a little. Directing is really high-pressure and, more to the point, so full of technical and interpersonal concerns that my creativity gets worn out. Whereas writing is actually refreshing and gives me new, exciting ideas. So I’m going to adjust my CMCO concentration and admit, maybe for the first time, that I’m a writer.

::I have a new theory that if teachers want to make “collaborative learning” (group projects/ discussions/etc.) actually effective, they should pattern them after the discussions my friends and I were having at 3:00 AM after trying to watch and analyze A Clockwork Orange…now THAT was educational.

::Something only writing people will care about: In my writing fiction class, I’m trying to “invent” a new POV. There’s one called “Third Person Objective”, where the story is told in third person but without sharing anyone’s thoughts. All emotions are shown through talking and behavior. Then there’s First Person POVs, which all take place in someone’s head. For my final project, I’m trying to combine these two into “First Person Objective”. It’s being told in first person, but without any thoughts. Technically this isn’t possible because first person is, by definition, someone’s perception. But whatever. Not to mention that I’m combining it with second person so that the two main characters are only known as “I” and “you”. This is turning out…weirdly? Interestingly? We’ll see.

Sorry if no one finds any of that interesting. But I enjoyed sharing! If nothing else you can stare and wonder why I used double colons as my bullet points.

Change What?

February 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

Have you ever looked around and thought: “Hm. Other people seem to have everything I desire in life, and they didn’t even try that hard to get it. What am I doing wrong?” I bet people besides me think this. You know. If you’re getting older and older and have always been single, you think it while looking at couples. If you’re a struggling student, you think it while looking at good students. If you you’re shy, you think it while staring at that person who has all the friends gathered around them.

And life gets confusing. I know people say “Don’t compare your life to other peoples’ lives.” But I think there’s a place for that. I mean, a big part of becoming a better person is looking at people who are examples and learning from them. Like, if you’re super shy you might ask a confident person to give you some tips.

But when my life doesn’t look like other peoples’ lives, or how I would like my life to look, I start to wonder if I’m doing something wrong. That person over there is articulate. That person is fun to be around. That person is attractive. That person is kind. That person is intelligent. Isn’t it kind of easy to start assuming that if you turn yourself into those people, life might be easier? I might be a better person?

It’s hard to have wisdom in an area like this. I don’t understand the difference between things I should change and things I shouldn’t.

Examples: when I was younger I would sit around by myself and not talk to anyone. When I came to college, I realized that changing this behavior would probably make my life better. And so it did.

BUT this goes two ways. When I got to college, I also thought that I was too slow and gentle compared to other people. It was cooler to be sarcastic and quick and snappy and always run around doing things without taking time for others; people like that make more friends. So I tried to remove the gentle/kind/slow-paced part of myself. Later I realized that this just made me really sad and wasn’t any improvement at all–so I went back to my real self and even though it is sometimes considered lame instead of  “cool”, I don’t care anymore.

So obviously there are times when you should change, and even take the example of others who achieve what you desire (ex: those people make friends by being social; I could try that). But there are other times when I’m just down on myself–I’m not seeing that I have anything meaningful to contribute, so I just give in to pressure to change. Self pressure and peer pressure. Aside from the blatantly obvious, I’m not sure how to look at my life and see what is valuable and should be preserved and what is holding me back and should be changed.

Tough question, and one that I’m not sure how to answer.

Filling the Hole

January 29, 2012 § 2 Comments

About a month ago, I applied to spend next spring semester (2013) in NYC studying art, writing, and media. The program seemed like a perfect fit and the way I found out about it made me think that it was something God put in front of me to pursue. Because I have a strong GPA and a passion for my areas of study and because “God told me to”, I was really confident of being accepted. Not in a stuck-up way, just in an excited way. A lot of my hopes and ambitions for the future became tied up in “when I go to NYC”. I was ready to make connections through the program and the internships, hoping it would launch me successfully into life after graduation.  I had even prayed through the essay questions on upcoming stages of the application and had the answers all planned out in my head.

When two of my best friends were accepted into their programs, my hopes rose even higher. “Everyone’s going to be accepted!” I thought. Then I opened my own email from the global studies department. The opening words?

We regret to inform you…

For a second, I was simply more surprised than I may have ever been in my life. In a “What? Wait…God? Whaaat?” kind of way. Then I recovered and ran back to celebrate my friends’ acceptances. Which I’m thrilled about, by the way. I can’t think of two people who deserve it more. When they asked if I was ok about not being accepted, I answered (100% truthfully) “Sure! There’s some reason God wants me here, I guess.”

But later, watching a movie in our neighbor’s apartment, I started to notice something weird down in my stomach. A creeping feeling of shock. Something had gotten ripped, suddenly and wholly, out of my heart and it left a big hole.

Or, to put it another way, the path I was racing down (the path I thought God put in front of me) suddenly vanished. So now I’m standing in the middle of the forest and every direction looks the same and I’m a little lost, not sure where I came from or where I’m going.

But all this means is that now I have a new path to find. It made me think of the story where Gideon has gathered this super army to defeat God’s enemies and then God comes along and says “Nope…send ’em all home.” He launches Gideon into battle with none of the resources Gideon thought he needed, with none of the conventional means to success, so that when victory came, Gideon and everyone else would know that it was all to God’s glory. I’m not sure what this story means for me, but I can’t help thinking it applies somehow.

Following God kind of means that we’re walking blindly, in trust in the dark. And it usually seems that things only start to take a good and beautiful shape after they pass us by. For example, I mentioned in my first post how I had some pretty rough times last semester. I had no idea why. But I can say this now: if my application had been rejected two or three months ago, I would be a basket case. I’d be depressed and second-guessing my whole life. But now, because of the rough times, I have this weird foundation of peace that’s taken over. And I definitely can’t take credit for it because I don’t even get it–it’s definitely not the reaction I’m used to having.

I’m not sure why anyone else should care about all this, but since this is my blog I feel like I should record stuff that has a huge impact on me. And this is definitely one of those moments. I no longer have the semester I thought was going to change my life, which is a little scary. But that means there is something else going on, some new path to walk. And I’m excited to discover what that might be.

Something crazy

January 15, 2012 § 2 Comments

The first week of school has been very full and actually very successful and also kind of strange. It is definitely its own entity, not a continuation of first semester as I expected. But when I decided to sum it up, this is what came out:

****

Change springs at you from around corners. This at least has become clear.

If you read my previous post, you know about my self-imposed quest to become more genuine and engaged this semester. Since it is a fairly subtle adjustment, I figured finding change would be some kind of struggle.

Now I’m not so sure.

Yeah I know there is such a thing as gradual change–the waves-on-the-rocks sort of change–but even that rushes at you like some kind of mystery. You can see it but you can’t quite remember how it began or imagine how it may end.

I remember thinking, sometime last semester, I’m really struggling here right now. How am I going to make it through two-and-a-half more years of this? I saw life as some kind of tedious homogenous blob. I didn’t savor anything because I thought had it–thought I was stuck with it–forever. But this is such a dangerous thought.

I will never again have what I have right now.

Things change all of a sudden, all at once. The floor becomes the ceiling and you don’t know where anything went or where anything should go. That person who was annoying you has walked away and now you kind of miss them. A person comes, a person goes, a living situation alters, classes turn into different classes, relationships rise and fall and I find myself staring at my hands realizing I did not hold this moment well and now it’s gone forever.

If you don’t fully look at what you have when you have it, life becomes a never-ending funeral for each thing you noticed only just as it vanished over the horizon.But if you have it, hold it, live the life out of it, and then let it go, change becomes a fresh wind. An exhilarating gift from God.

I’m not saying this has to mean a certain lifestyle. You can study or have a party or sleep or eat or anything–just as long as you aren’t gazing wistfully backwards or forwards as you do so. And I’m not saying that circumstances have to be good or bad. The worst times, just like the best times, are happening and that alone gives them the right to be fully experienced.

This week has been about not locking myself in, not analyzing, but simply living fully in whatever people, places, and events happen to come by. I can’t mope about why my life looks a certain way because it’s now and it’s mine and that is all I need to know.

Confessions

January 6, 2012 § 6 Comments

Wait…where did all the old posts go? Why is this dead blog talking again? What’s up?

I’ve spent a lot of time this Christmas break looking back over old blog posts and old FB statuses (thanks timeline!). And I just have to laugh. Or sigh. They seem pretentious.

Here’s Past Megan: I want to make people think I am interesting and clever. After all, people want to make friends with interesting, clever people. Right? So everything I write or say is super witty and put-together and frankly…pretty fake. It might not come off as fake to someone who doesn’t know me as well I know myself, but I end up sitting there looking at what I said 6 months ago and asking “Who is this person anyway?”

Think about the “me” some of you see sometimes. Maybe I’m writing weird poetry or maybe I’m composing “Psycho” soundtracks with the effects on your piano keyboard or maybe I’m trying to learn swing dancing on Youtube but generally it’s not something witty and put-together. And that is when I’m happiest. But sometimes I lose that.

I’m not sure how many people did or didn’t know but this past semester was pretty rough on me. It wasn’t so much that bad things happened. More that that Past Megan, witty, clever, overly-cheerful, put-together, don’t-tell-anyone-what-I’m-thinking Megan let me down. She couldn’t handle actual *life* very well. But then…what did I have? I grew withdrawn, confused, and not happy about being confused.

After talking and praying, the conclusion is that I’m going to try and let go of Past Megan, as safe as it may feel to keep her around. I’m hoping for something more engaged and less calculated. Genuine, simple, creative, open, less selfish, and hopefully a lot happier with myself as myself, not as someone I think might be well liked.

So. The actual reason I set out to post on here is that I realized if I ever start getting writing published or something like that, having a website is a good way to spread your name. So I figured I shouldn’t let this one die. Also my dang roommate won’t post on her blog until I post on mine.

But then I realized when I came back and looked at this blog, looked at all the writing and videos, I mean it was cool and all but it did not ring true. It was trying to be too clever and I felt like I couldn’t stand to speak on here as my honest self. So I decided to “remodel the lounge” so to speak.

I pulled down all the old stuff and I’m starting again–not to be boring, but to be more myself (which should actually be pretty entertaining). So this is going to be kind of a scary experiment for me this semester on this blog as well as in real life. But if you’re willing to stick around I’m looking forward to sharing here with you as time goes on and also getting to know you all much more deeply in real life.

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