excerpt from “Mormon Missionaries Pay Me a Visit”
by Ken Hada
I’m sitting on my lawn
enjoying a nice blunt cigar
watching children ride scooters
up and down the street
twilight gently falling,
Mississippi Kites high overhead,
tree frog, sounds of sweet shadows
[. . .]
If I convert do I have to give up this cigar?
They are not sure
but soon get back on track
like a loose wheel wobbling
until they finally bid me good evening.
I watch them roll away
what gives them the audacity to interrupt me
while I am at worship
excerpt from “Fix You”
And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can’t replace
When you love someone, but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?
Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you
excerpt from “Some of Us”
Some of us laugh, some of us cry,
Some of us smoke, some of us lie,
But it’s all just the way that we cope with our lives.
My wandering soul found solace at last,
I wanted to know how long it would last.
As usual I have been way over-thinking the nature of human interactions. For whatever reason, this week each of the three excerpts above really encouraged me to think about how I react to my life, to my experiences, and to other people and their lives and experiences. By this I mean that I have been challenged once again to re-evaluate those relationships in my life which are difficult and to think about how I can more fully respond to those people in my life who take a lot of energy.
I especially like the first excerpt, because it makes me stop and think about the ways in which different people worship, thereby interacting with our Creator. Hada writes about how he wonders “what gives them the audacity to interrupt me while I am at worship,” and I wonder how many times, especially when I was younger, I have interrupted someone who was already worshiping in order to explain to them how my understanding of God is better than theirs or to try to sway him or her into my way of thinking. This rings particularly true of me in middle school and early high school when I was so involved with the right-wing evangelical Wesleyan Church. I would drop everything for the chance to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” with a wayward soul, so I wonder how many times people wished I would just leave them alone to worship in their way. Sometimes I look back and think I was little like Hilary Faye on Saved!.
I needed someone, when I was at a younger age, to help me understand that our different faiths are not weapons to be used against each other. I needed to realize much earlier that I should be more like the character of Mary. At this age, today, I am slightly envious of those people who grow up without this extremely conservative and mixed-up phase in their lives. I meet so many fantastic students today who will likely not look back, wondering what the heck they were doing in middle school. They will look back and ask about other things, but not why they were proselytizing their friends in such ridiculous ways.
I have come to realize, possibly way too late in life, that one person’s porch-sitting, cigar-smoking, enjoyment of life and nature is another person’s going-to-church, wearing-Sunday-best, singing-some-praise-songs worship. Both are good, but many times the former strikes at Ralph Waldo Emerson’s point in “Self-reliance”: “If you maintain a dead church, contribute to a dead Bible-society, vote with a great party either for the government or against it, spread your table like base housekeepers, — under all these screens I have difficulty to detect the precise man you are. [. . .] But do your work, and I shall know you. Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself. A man must consider what a blindman’s-buff is this game of conformity. If I know your sect, I anticipate your argument.” Too frequently, as Emerson notes, we let our leaders speak for us, and we merely become parrots of their party line.
I suppose the other two excerpts, while helping to illustrate Emerson’s point, simply serve to remind me that each person we come in contact with carries baggage, each person hides scars, and each person lives with guilt, shame, and remorse. Each person is a wondering soul, looking for solace. Each person has lost something that can’t be replaced. But, there is hope, there is grace, there is love. By coping with life, we each tap into that deeply human part of life that we all share. Those dark recesses of the human mind, those highlights of the human soul, they work together to help us recognize the humanity in each other, however difficult it is to detect.
Being the horrible fat studies scholar that I am, as of tomorrow, I am going to try to lose 30 lbs. by February 14 when I start training for the marathon. I think it might help me to be less injury prone, and I know it will help me to run faster. In order to try to lose this weight, I am going to keep running four times a week while only consuming from 1200-1500 calories a day. This will be a huge cut for me, since I generally eat 1800 to 2000 calories per day. I plan to do this by eating more whole grains, more vegetables and fruits, no soda, no unnecessary sugars, no lattes, no hot chocolate. I am not generally a “dieter,” but I NEED to finish this marathon. I NEED to do it for me. Selfish? Yes. Also, I suppose people will get tired of hearing, “I am sorry I can’t meet with you, but I have a XXX-mile run today.” My new goal marathon is Grandma’s Marathon in Minnesota. It’s on June 16, and I will have to make a weekend of it, but it’s worth it to (sometimes) run along the shore of Lake Superior.