A Gifted Voice

Music is emotion

in a lovely glass bottle

spritzed around like perfume,

for all to feel it.

Here is my heartbreak,

the singer says,

Here are my joys.

Here is love

so intense that it aches,

don’t you remember how that feels?

I didn’t, actually,

didn’t want to remember, but—

Thank you.

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Reflections of Infinity

You. You’ve always existed,

in some way or other.

Older than time itself,

that’s you.

The bones that carry you,

the skin you wear,

these are new.

Even without them,

the experience they brought,

you were still you.

Like a snowball

rolling

down a hill,

acquiring mass;

like a sapling

putting forth new roots and branches,

you grew, yet

your core was the same.

Child of Eternity,

stardust in your eyes,

do you see that core?

Have you any idea

how beautiful

you are?

You are

the past behind you,

the road before you,

the choices you make,

the tales you tell,

and

you are infinitely more.

On Meeting Your Heroes

Here’s the thing about heroes: they’re people. They have people’s desires and exhaustions and flaws. They can be good people, often, but people all the same. No one on this planet is Superman, even if I still think of my dad that way sometimes (I blame his love of Smallville).

I try to keep that in mind whenever I have the chance to meet someone I admire, whether for their voice or creativity or uncommonly kind heart. Heroes are people. People are flawed. Both of these things can be true, no those we consider our personal heroes can still be worthy of respect.

Last month, I had the opportunity to meet David Archuleta before one of his concerts. He’s one of those people I respect, for his integrity and for the messages he works to share through his music. During the concert, he introduced one of the songs with some commentary on social media.

He pointed out that on the internet, people usually only share the things about their lives that they are happy with-the good selfies, the weekends spent with friends, not the time spent on makeup or the quiet nights in.

I think this filtering of information is also in effect when it comes to our heroes. Parents don’t usually tell their children about their doubts and struggles as they raise them. Creative people share their successes far more readily than they do their weeks of struggling to come up with an idea. Emergency responders don’t tell the people they’re rescuing about the times they didn’t get there soon enough.

This can be good. I, for one, am not even slightly interested in seeing everyone’s dirty laundry.

But it can lead to the impression that heroes aren’t ordinary People Like Us, and that’s just inaccurate. Heroes are ordinary. They have favorite foods and bad habits and toothbrushes, same as me and probably you, dear reader.

Which leads to the conclusion that any of us can be heroes for someone.

A Thought and a Song

It’s been my habit, from a very early age, to focus most of my attentions on music that was slightly melancholy.  Not sure why. Maybe I like minor keys. Maybe all the happy songs were about sappy romances, which I’ve never been interested in. Maybe I’m just morbid. The songs don’t make me sad when I listen to them, really. I just like them.

Sometimes, though, the world is a touch more awful than usual, and I just want to listen to something upbeat and happy. I made a music playlist for just such an occasion, and thought I’d share it here.

The most recent addition to the playlist is “Invincible” by David Archuleta, which came out last week.

Invincible is, despite its title, about not being invincible. It’s about going through hard times without allowing yourself to become hard.

We live in what future historians will likely call an “interesting time”. There are so many changes going on, so much conflict.  But there are a lot of good things too, and remembering that, as the song suggests, is its own type of strength.

Here’s the thing about words

I don’t know if anyone else’s mind works like this. I’ve never been anyone else.

For me, words are anchors to thought. They nail down a concept or idea into easily definable parameters so that that concept can be shared. Sometimes it’s hard to be sure that the concept fits the parameters the words are forming, but so far the errors are manageable. Sometimes it’s hard to assemble the words to match the concept quickly enough to engage in conversation, but again, it’s manageable.

Thinking in words is nice. It’s the simplest way to engage with the world.

Words are communication. Those who can’t use them, or who use words in a language other than the one used by those around them, have difficulty getting their thoughts and needs across.

And words are fun. The way that “right” can mean either a direction or “correct” is amusing. The different connotations attached to words like “combat boots” can lead in dozens of fascinating directions. The different ways people use words, based on where they are from and what they have experienced, those are really cool.

But it’s not the only way to think. There are numbers. Colors. Line. Melody. Thinking in those is useful and exciting too. It can have remarkable results–creative works no words could make.

And sometimes I don’t use any of those to think, not words or color or number. Thinking without anything remotely like language to nail down the thoughts isn’t not-thinking. It’s just a different way of experiencing things. Once I was thinking in that way while fidgeting with a puzzle box no one in my family could figure out. I dismantled it in a few minutes, though I still am not sure how.

The Week of Insanity

After typing that title, I have Princess Bride lines spouting off at the back of my mind.  Ah well.

This week, next week, and probably the week after that have been/will all be hectic.  Finishing my portfolio and application to the Illustration program at BYU.  Helping with my church’s Pioneer Day celebration.  Babysitting.  My brother’s birthday.  A change in medications.  One of my best friends getting home from his two-year LDS mission in twelve days (not that I’m counting).

Last night I helped operate the fairy floss machine to make sure it would work at the Pioneer Day celebration on Saturday.  I still had sugar in my hair when my family hauled me off to see Star Trek–which was amazing, by the way.

I have a very strong auditory memory, so during times of stress like this my brain starts playing a few of my favorite songs on repeat.  Today it’s Who I Am by David Archuleta.

There was supposed to be a picture with this blog, but the technology is not cooperating.  My apologies.

Next week:  Why villains need redemptive traits.  And possibly a dragon.

On Creating Beauty

One of my favorite things about Vincent Van Gogh is that even though he was fighting his inner demons every day, he turned the pain from that battle into paintings of incredible beauty.  People might find the way he cut off part of his own ear or the way he died to be memorable, but those things matter because of all the positive things he added to the world when they could have been all negative.  That would have been the easier route.

I try to do that too, but pretending that I’m always, or even usually, okay, would be lying.

My semester at university ended last week, and now I’m home.  Changes like moving, even moving home, always strengthen my own inner demons, but I’ve managed to be pretty productive this past week despite that.  Started a new sketchbook for my reapplication to the illustration program.  Found a couple books on figure drawing and worked on proportions and structure.  Developed a project I’ll probably tell you all about when it’s a bit more outside my head.  Watched the first season of Agents of Shield.  Met up with some friends.  Drove my little brother to and from rehearsal practice for a school musical.  I might even finish unpacking before I have to pack up and leave again.

My mind is still a pretty unawesome place to be in right now, though, so I’ve been thinking of ways to increase the beautiful, good things I make.  I have a list.

1: Bake cookies.  Obviously.

Chocolate chips cookies make everything better, and the simplest recipes only take five ingredients.  Making them is a good way to expel nervous energy without having to think too hard–perfect for a bad anxiety day.

2:  Listen to music.

I have two playlists of the best songs I’ve heard:  One on Youtube and one on iTunes.  There’s something about listening to the right music that helps me get centered so I can get up and do things like eat breakfast.

3:  Read scriptures.

It’s cliche, but that doesn’t really matter.  Scriptures remind me that there’s a lot more to the world than myself, and that there’s someone watching over everything.  That’s usually enough to kick me out of circular thoughts.

When I do one of those things, I can generally get started on drawing or writing something good, though perhaps a little dark.  When I can’t, reading or watching someone else’s fiction is always an option.

What are some things you all do to get motivation to do awesome things?  Let me know in the comments.