13 February 2008

Hope Comes From The Strangest Places

For a variety of reasons, yesterday was a tough day. Sometimes, the mental castles we make for ourselves turn out to be mere sand, susceptible to the whims of wave and tide. It's hard to keep perspective on things when it feels as though time itself has been taken from you. I'm only 28 - yet I feel as though I should have the world at my feet. One's outlook can have a huge impact on this; if I think about it too much, life can become one big game of waiting for what is next and never enjoying what one is doing in the present.
I read a book called "Samurai Zen" a few years ago, and an exercise it gave to combat the stresses of modern life was to take everything, even the most trivial experience, and look at it with new eyes, as if it were the first time it had ever been done. I tried this, and it was exhausting. It's exhausting because it's easy to become complacent with the visions one sees every day: the same route to work, the same stains in the bottom of the coffee cup, the same red light blinking on the phone indicating your attention is needed elsewhere. "Samurai Zen" had some fascinating ideas in it - but the idea of looking at things through new eyes was probably the most startling. It's easy to take things for granted, and when that happens, life becomes a waiting game.
I'm prone to grand gestures. I regularly get rid of mass amounts of thrift clothing to turn over a new fashion leaf. I commit to detailed exercise plans only to watch them fail when I realize I hate doing them. I donated two books of CDs, several hundred in all, to Goodwill when I realized I should be spending more time on music with meaning. I don't do half-measures, and never have. I'm either a complete sinner or a complete saint, completely full or completely empty, or complete sober or completely wasted. This idea of "patiently waiting while looking to the future" strikes me as anathema to my natural tendencies. This is why I have close friends and family to keep the indignant stallions from bolting the stable. Without the, I would terribly off in life, charging in fully committed on grand adventures.
My uncertainty reached its height yesterday during a school board meeting, when I watched a video of children jumping rope to bad music for nearly 15 minutes. I questioned many things during that audio-visual purgatory: is this why I went to college? To write about children jumping rope? Is there any end to the mockery of this wretched day?
To my surprise, my spirits lifted when I threw myself into my work, taking notes like a fool and typing at 120 words a minute on my laptop. Soon, voices were singing in my head, and I wrote the lyrics down. It was something close to an epiphany, and I wish I could do this song justice. It sounded like a black choir in deep-fried gospel territory - something my rhythm and expression-inept self could never convey, sang it.

I think that God's got plans for me
Greener pastures, there to see
Nearer the station, nearer to see
Building momentum, building up steam
I know my train will come

Others leaving, fare thee well
Train's still coming, here a spell
We'll dip our pens in different wells
And meet again with tales to tell
I know my train will come

I wrote my ticket, baggage stored
I just can't wait, I feel so floored
I'll wait for that sweet "all aboard!"
And then I'll stop and thank you, Lord
I know my train will come

Coming up valleys, hills and plains
Coming up strong and stoking the flames
At last to stop and call my name
And take my off to bigger game
I knew, I always knew
I always knew my train would come

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