As I have read through some of her musings, I've reflected on some of my own journeys of self-discovery, of figuring out the essence of what is me. I'd been meaning to do this post for a while, ever since having a related conversation with my two older sisters about the what makes up the core of our identity. What are the things- ideas, beliefs, feelings, passions, etc.- that define our soul? As I've struggled to deal with the stresses of a new, haphazard school year and trying to figure these eighth-graders out, Sarah's own exploration of self have inspired me to step back and recapture some of those thoughts I had back in February, reflections on what contributes to my own essence. This is far beyond simply being a list of things I love (the list would be much longer if such were the case). Simply put, "This Is Me."
Baking: Baking is just something I have to do. It satisfies that part of me that loves to create and to share. I love not just the pleasure of seeing/smelling/tasting a recipe well-executed, I love the pleasure it gives others as they partake of the spoils. Again, I think that if I could not bake, a part of me would wither with wistful regret.
Beauty: I like to surround myself with beauty. Lest you think me vain or terribly snobby in some way, I just mean that if something is beautiful- music, objects, nature, words, ideas- I like to connect it with my life somehow. I love beautiful things. Some may call my life cluttered- I have so many decorative objects I sometimes don't know what to do with them all- but contrary to what some may believe, I do not fill my life with such things because I am so materialistic. I have these things because their beauty brings pleasure to my spirit. That is not to say that I consider these beautiful objects to be of greater importance than less tangible valuables (e.g. my relationships with my family, friends, my testimony, etc.). But while I have them, my heart smiles with delight.
Twilight Blue: I have many colors that I like, depending on their context. But there is something about this deep, celestial blue- the color of the evening sky after the sun has set, before it deepens to blackness- that reaches further into my eternal awareness, satisfying some deep, divine need that can never fully be expressed in words.
Music: This may seem obvious since I come from such a musical family, but there are certain types of music that resonate with my soul on a deeper level. Secret Garden comes to mind in particular. I have often said that if my life (or any of my writings) were ever made into a movie, I would want them to do the soundtrack. So much of their music provokes images to create themselves in my mind. So many stories have been inspired by their melodic and harmonic art. I also think Kurt Bestor and Enya and Tchaikovsky would be at the top of the list. Specific pieces of music would be Chopin's Nocturne, Op. 72 No. 1, Mannheim Steamroller's Stille Nacht and Nepenthe, and Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overature, which never fails to stir my blood and invigorate the fire within.
Nature/The Country: For all the convenience and opportunity a city provides, it can never affect me the way the sound of crickets chirping can. I love the way the woods look like they're draped in mists of green as the leaves begin to burst out of their winter hibernations, the way a June field glitters like a galaxy of stars as the fireflies flit about in the early evening twilight, the way the flames of autumn leaves subside into more subtle embers of somber hues, the way a light snow etches out the complexities of the beautifully naked trees in their midwinter glory. I feel so much more keenly in the midst of God's creations than I ever truly do in the midst of mankind's.
Writing: Like Mr. Holland, sometimes I think that teaching is the temporary job while I try to get all the ideas I have for novels- epic and otherwise- out on paper in some publishable format. I still feel like I have some good ideas, if only I had the time (or capabilities) of turning them into the good stories I know they can be. I have realized, though, that whether or not I ever get published, I have to write. Like Emily in L.M. Montgomery's books, it is in my blood. I don't just write because I love it; I write because I have to. I write because it is one of the ways my soul connects with itself. I love to try the taste of words in different combinations, like so many savory spices, where just the right blend creates a delightful feast for the literary palate. And for me, it is not just the end result but the process as well. The medium by which I write often makes a difference, completely affecting my mood: a pen has a totally different feel than a pencil; a quill pen that requires dipping ink inspires in me all the romance of those ages gone by; a typewriter creates in me a different awareness of life than a computer ever truly could (though I am obviously not averse to the modern conveniences a computer provides). Whatever comes out, however it comes out, writing is such a part of me that I would suffocate if I could not write.
Books: For years, books have been the balm to heal just about every soul-wound I have ever felt. Whatever spiritual or emotional aches I felt, whatever griefs I passed through, books were what calmed my troubled heart. I almost never get rid of books because I rarely buy books that aren't already friends of mine. The books that I read and love become so quickly woven into the fabric of my existence. Once a book has affected me that way, I can never read it just once. While there are still plenty of people to whom I will turn when I need help with one thing or another, books are equally my advisors, counsellors, confidantes, and friends. "Isn't it odd how much fatter a book gets when you've read it several times?...As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells... and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too...." (~Mo, from Inkspell, by Cornelia Funke)
Stars: Every time I look up at the stars- especially when a cold, winter night enhances their stark splendor and brilliance- my soul stirs with love and longing. My eternal essence connects with the same eternal essence that burns within these guardians of the infinite. Even more than when I am surrounded by the cathedral-like spires of oaks, maples, and evergreens, it is in moments like these that I truly feel the boundless love of our Heavenly Father; I feel my spirit commune with His as the eyes of heaven twinkle tenderly from the eternities above. Above all, I begin to feel the glorious weight and responsibility of my divine potential as the endless possibilities of existence open themselves to my mind's view. Perhaps that is in large part why I love almost any sun/moon/stars motif or decor, because they remind me of "God, who is our home."
And so, for good or for ill, for better or for worse, this IS who I am.
For now, I bid you adieu.
For now, I bid you adieu.