Human #1 Mr. Watson

It has taken me a very long time to collect my time and thoughts into exactly what I want to do with this blog.  It was first meant to be a letter from me to you, the wide world.  However, I have combined this objective with another dream of mine: to interview various remarkable and beautifully ordinary humans.  I want to showcase people who are uniquely different with stories that bind us together in a united purpose to live and to love.

I started this endeavor a few years ago while I was student teaching and preparing to step out into the real world.  The moment I met Mr. Watson, better know as “Santa Claus” by the students, I knew he would be my first interview.  Every conversation with him consisted of detailed history lessons, clever puns, and an ever appropriate jolliness.  To top it all off, he often wore a genuine kilt to school to proudly demonstrate his Scottish heritage.

In these interviews, I ask various questions and allow them to choose which to answer: What is your favorite childhood memory?  Who inspired you most?  What do you feel is our purpose here?  Do you believe in a God?  What did you always want to become?  Do you believe in miracles and has one ever happened?  What was your greatest accomplishment so far?  Who do you love most?

I tell the people that the most important question to answer is: If you could leave one message with the entire world, what would that be?  

Below, is my first Human, Mr. Watson:

 

 

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Let’s face it…”people are crazy.”

Dear crazy and RECENTLY INSANE world,

I don’t know what you think about country music.  You may be someone who screams it at the top of your lungs out the car window or you may not even know what “country music.”  If you’re foreign, the only American music you’ve probably heard is Brittany Spears and the “Biebs.”

For a girl raised in the South, I have never liked country music.  The twang, trucks, and beer just don’t speak to my heart.  However, there is one song.  The words follow as: “God is great, beer is good, people are crazy.”  It’s only a few words, but they are some of the truest words I have ever heard.  The beer part may be disputable… but I certainly know that my two undeniable truths are: God is great and there is no doubt that people are crazy.  In fact, sometimes people are so crazy that I can barely stand it.  One thing after another—until I think my heart might collapse in despair for the entire world.

A young boy is never told how amazing he is, so he gives up on every step of the rest of his life.  A father cares nothing about his children, but everything about his work.  We drink the magic elixir of alcohol to lose ourselves and find others-only to find that they too are absent, drinking from the same cup.  A husband verbally abuses his wife, and yet she goes on, watching Wheel of Fortune.  After fifteen years of a life with her two children and husband, a woman abandons her family for a life on her own.  A man cannot speak his feelings, or the words, “I’m sorry,” so he finishes off an entire bottle of wine.  Nations rage over land, demoCRAZY, and whose God is better.

If there is one thing that all the world’s religions have in common, it is the recognition of the flawed human heart.  The affairs, the misunderstandings, the biases, and the complexities in our own interior all point to this prevalent truth.  Last night, as I sat on my dock and looked around at the houses, each illuminated by their lights, I thought of the inevitable LOADS of suffering that has entered through every door.

It’s remarkable how easy it is for us to swap out our life lenses.  At one moment we see all things as illuminated in a beautifully positive light and the next, all things are shrouded in a frightening darkness.  The last time I visited my home church, I was overcome by a warming love when I looked around at the smiling children, couples, and elders in the pews.  This Sunday, I felt a cold stone in my stomach as each individual mechanically rose and sat, as instructed by the speaking pastor.  Singer and cellist Ben Sollee (LISTEN TO HIM-He’s one of those that sums up life pretty dang well) has a song entitled, “Bend”, that speaks perfectly to my heart.  I would like to think my usual lenses are those of light, but as reality’s coldness and harshness have crept into view, so has a dark window.  All of these things have made me indeed “bend.”  “When the storm comes, will you reject the rain?”  When the wind blows and calls your name, will you run in fear?”  “Don’t stand against the wind, because you know you’re gonna break.”  I may not be breaking yet, but I have certainly been near BURSTING.

When people get their CRAZIEST, I find it easier to see them as some odd and foreign species to which I do not belong.  I imagine that surely I couldn’t be a part of this crazy world, belonging only to the mystic cosmos to which I will one day return.  Of course, there is no denying my inevitable tie to this race.  In the end, it is easier to realize this bond.  And in lenses of light, it is quite a beautiful thing to reach out to a stranger like you.  I do hope that you use your lenses of light, seeing the way that the same crazy world that brings such hurt can be illuminated in brilliance.  Do not let it break you…simply Bend.

http://youtu.be/mlYqk2ygYfw

 

A girl trying to Bend…and perhaps using a Bifocal way of seeing the world,

Khara

A Voyage on the S.S. NEHI

Rather than being sucked of its fizzy and sweet peach contents only to be recycled, the below NEHI bottle has had quite a different destiny.  I decided that it would be the messenger of my words with the sea.  At last, I have a message in a bottle.

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Dear whomever this Peach NEHI bottle finds,

I do hope you find these words dry, legible, and honest.  I leave them here on this coast where I first learned to write, in a bottle from the mountains I’ve grown to climb.  I’ve always had the desire in my heart to leave a message in a bottle.  Between my love for writing letters and my need to reach my 21-year-old arms out to the world, it was inevitable that this bottle would bypass the recycling bin for a Sea Voyage on the S.S. NEHI.  Ever since grade school, I have found that my most meaningful actions have been those that REACH OUT to others: writing a thankful letter to a teacher, playing a piece as a gift to my audience, or turning down impending deadlines to spend time with those whom I love.  Beyond all accomplishments, hobbies, and hard work it has been acts like these that fill my heart.

You see, I am currently in quite the transitory place in my life (but aren’t we all?)  I have known what I wanted to do with my life for years and I have stuck with it.  Yet, I am constantly bombarded with a purpose-check and a reminder of my many competing interests.  I go between trusting that I am where I am, doing what I’m doing when I should in God’s perfect plan and completely pulling away from this in stubborn defiance.  I kick and struggle to seek my own perfectly engineered role in this world.  I have always been so sure that there was something “remarkable” that awaited me in my future—again, don’t we all?  Then there is what I truly know: that I belong to God, His will is perfect, He knows where He wants me, and I have to stop seeking my purpose on my own.  In fact, I already have one in God, alone.  It is so easy to forget what lies beyond, “eternal perspective,” as my close friend calls it.  It is in the simple lives, quiet and humble that God speaks the loudest…and it is on the darkest nights that the stars shine the brightest.  I suppose I am currently in my own “dark night,” in which God becomes the realist thing that I can see.  I don’t know if you even believe in God, but He certainly believes in us.  Beyond all hurting, worldly desire, confusion, frustration, doubt, and fear is a constant murmur of promise that says, “Be still and know that I am God.”  I feel Him in waters like these, I see Him in the staring eyes of a deer, I see him in a mountain sunset, I hear him in the winds that blow, and I feel him in my soul with every move I make…and I know that He. Is.

I must also mention that I write to teach and advise myself about life.  Of course sometimes it doesn’t seem to be me talking at all, but God.  That’s why prayer is so incredible.  Yea, God’s will is going to happen (I could pray that this bottle floats to Africa, but instead, God would rather read and keep it Himself in sunken ruins), even when we pray, but he truly speaks and teaches through those times.

I don’t know if you’re male, female, young, old, a 43-year-old housewife, or a chimpanzee, but whoever you are, I am reaching out to you, for me, for God, and for the world.  There are too many good intentions and dreams dropped from hands that now hold wine bottles, remote controls, guns, crumpled tissues, and a bunch of regrets.  I don’t think many things are here on this earth with any purpose other than to Teach Us.  We have different races to learn acceptance, we feel grief to know that God is the one thing left, we find love in another to see a mere reflection of that which is God’s –if that love fails, there is God saying His is the only love that is perfect.  There is this girl sending a letter in a bottle to the ocean to do…what?  She certainly doesn’t know, but of course now, she doesn’t care.  She has found herself once again in His guiding confidence.  It doesn’t even matter how big her earthly failures become.  In fact, she could lose every job, relationship, and home she ever owns and she would know that her destination remains the key.  Ironically, it is when she realizes this, seizes this promise, and uses it in her RIGHT NOW present life that God fills her with all that she needs and more to be just fine.  I pray for you every day—I reach out to you now.  So does God.  God doesn’t need a silly bottle though.  I’m sure He wishes we’d make it all easier on ourselves…but that wouldn’t be life, would it?

 

Sincerely,

A girl finding her way, bumpily, but surely

ps. If this is found by someone who also enjoys writing letters, please write back.  I’d love to hear/read from you.

A fiercely gripped 650,000 hours of life

Hello again world,

It might already seem that my letters will be coming sparingly, but I have tried to collect enough thoughts, gusto, and time before this second letter.  Of course, I have been rather busy with summer business: touring Europe with my jazz band, running around with Kindergarteners, taking summer classes and simultaneously forgetting that I am taking those classes, having future career crisis’, eating too many tortilla chips, sharing romantic and miscommunicated nights, and dancing in thick mountain mud.  Most importantly, I am learning more about myself, losing all that I learned, and relearning even more.  I suppose this finds you during one of your own odd seasons, both breathing it in and exhaling it into another day.

If there is one thing that I must share with you about me, it would be how fiercely I hold onto the purpose and direction of my life and career.  I am a girl with a million dreams, a thousand interests, and a constantly meandering sense of direction.  Truth: I obsess over my future and yet ultimately trust in where God is taking me.  I wanted to share something that I once recorded in my journal:

Adopted relative number 12: an elderly outdoors woman wearing a fitted collared printed dress of the time, perhaps 1940’s.  The woods as her backdrop, she stands at the right corner of the shot.  As if she has just been met in the middle of leading her young girl scouts through a troop adventure, she holds a stick, perhaps too small for walking, that dangles in her right hand.  Below her tilted black hat is a face of most divine delight.  Mischievously, she wrinkles her eyes into a squint and her mouth curls into a pinched grin.  There is no doubt that this woman lived a beautiful life.  Among the trees or perhaps in a household with an office-working husband and three beautiful children.  Of course, maybe that husband came with a mistress and a bad legal battle followed by her emergence into an independent life of self-discovery and Sunday luncheons.  Now she stands poised in the plastic bag marked “$2.00 Good Condition Photos.”  With her fellow expired characters she sat in an antique booth, waiting for a human of the future to find love for a stranger and to “adopt-a-relative”–that’s what the box says.  With each visit to downtown Boone, I take one home.  It is difficult to limit myself, but I find that everything is more special when retrieved on its own, one among none.  After all, each photo is an entire person-a life and a story. 

I read a book recently that said a long human life lasts about 650,000 hours.  It followed to explain the atoms’ fickle tendency, as they will soon move on to create something new: a pine tree, an oak coffee table (not that it has to be wood).  All of the matter created at the beginning of the Universe is all that will ever be.  I guess it’s our world’s own version of “reduce, reuse, and recycle.”  Whatever it is, man is a magnificent and temporary visitor to earth.  He arrives, growing into his beautiful surroundings.  Not only does it seem he is an integral part of this place, but he is also assumed to rule it.  He is man, so what will he achieve?  Change this place, give to this place, become a vital part of this place, be remembered in this place…all in 650,000 hours.  This is not even considering that every different person has very contrasting goals: travel this place, marry the apparent love of this place, have pure-T fun in this place.  Maybe just to leave this place, though that need not be a purposeful goal-it will happen.  Continually, I must tell myself that my purpose should not be so deeply meditated on.  I find myself wound in knots of ideas, dreams, intentions, and yet TIME goes on reminding me that the earth and “this place” may not allow me to do all that I hope for.  Somewhere down the line of our World Wars, Revolutions-No, further back in early civilizations, some premise was made that says man must find his earthly duty and stick to it, loyal and miserable to the day he dies.  You just never hear of much moving around.  Never mind the lucky, brave, or rich.  The cause of my ever stressful state seems to be the desire to do all the things I love.  Moreover, it’s the pressure to choose between all of my dreams. 

Here it comes, bursting from my soul’s eyes–>faith check.  Rewind to man’s short time on earth.  It is supposed to be short-everything about life here is passing–passing through beauty created by God to finally meet the creator, Himself.  All of that early matter-yep, He did that.  It’s all His and that includes us.  No matter the purpose and goals met with seeming success here on earth, there will always be a loss for fulfillment.  20 years in and I do already understand this.  Though I fight for control of my own journey, I know it’s in the hands of God, the owner, the only being in the Universe, beyond the Universe, who will recognize my worth.  Sometimes I wonder how God could even care for little old me-no world-changing accomplishments here and no saintly works.  Yet, I remind myself it is in the silence and simplicity that God speaks to us.  His people of the past were simple and their earthly duties were of no importance, but to survive here and to shine his light, illuminating a path to Him for others.  Their treasure was truly in Heaven.  I know God sees me.  For I have felt His eyes and arms in far too many circumstances to think He doesn’t know me.  He knows me better than I do.  Like a child, my father knows my every birthmark and need.  That childhood never goes away.  To the day we die, we will all remain children, lost to all that truly surrounds us.  All we can do is look up to him in wide-eyed wonder, dancing on His feet and listening to his stories. 

So, here I sit, writing to you, my far-but not so far-intentioned reader.  What am I doing?  I am seeking one of those dreams and some piece of that purpose.  I am spreading my wings-tentacles-arms-butter and jam-whatever as far as I possibly can and I plan to do so for every bit of my 650,000 hours.  I am thrilled to think that by the end, I will not know much more about this life, this world, or even what I am doing here.  However, I will smile as I walk with my head in the clouds, already looking to my ultimate destination.

Walking on, to wherever that may be,

Khara

To the crazy world, whom it may or may not concern (postmark: finally)

Dear my beloved and crazy world,

It is with both burning desire and fearful hesitance that I write to you.  You–the most daunting of all audiences.  You are the critic, the priest, and the stranger.  And I am but a fellow passenger on this spinning blue-green planet with little experience beyond my 21 years of life.  However, I begin this cyber endeavor with one hope in mind: that I might share the sincere, raw, and patient words that can be expressed in no other way, but through a letter.  It has always been through letters that I have best spoken my heart to others.  They have been sent on everything from puppy and Lisa Frank stationary to simple notebook paper and muffin sheets.  On the front sleeve of my first journal are the words, “paper is more patient than man.”  -Anne Frank  Although this is not paper, but rather brilliantly arranged pixels on a scrollable, clickable, and illuminated screen, I think even the blank screen has enough patience for my meandering thoughts.

I don’t know how this letter will find you.  Perhaps “well” as you move through your daily tasks like only you and your surroundings know to function.  Or maybe you are feeling a forceful push from life as it urges you forward.  You could be fighting this push in fearful frustration with time’s irreversibility.  You could have finally caught your glimpse of life’s next cleverly guided destination.  You might be so inspired that you can’t stand it…or perhaps your once-inflamed dreams have grown stale.  You could be drowning in grief or you could be floating in the residual fog of depression.  You could feel as if your mind is flying hundreds of miles above your body.  And perhaps, in that floating, you have come across Cloud 9 and you couldn’t be more darn-tootin’ dandy!  However and wherever you are in this world, I send my blessing.

In the past, I have written letters to “my future husband,” as if my words could reach through space and time to the stranger that might one day take that role.  Though my words were sincere, I wondered then if the words had less significance, being addressed to an unknown reader.  The more I wrote, the more I realized that those words held an entirely new quality, beyond those of any typical letter.  They held this mysterious purpose, unknown to both the writer and the future reader.  The mystery was no longer how the reader might receive my words, but who might receive them.  Like sending a message in a bottle, I was reaching a hand into the seemingly empty space of the world, hoping that the words might be found by another.  Maybe that’s my goal here.  I’m not lonely, romantically deprived, or even bored, but there is something in me, something that is likely reflected in you, that urges me to share these words and segments of myself with you.  If you too are an earth-dwelling human, I would guess there are at least these things we have in common:  the same need to create, need to be loved, need to feel safe, need to be forgiven, need to be purposeful, need to belong, need to be fulfilled, and need to be connected with the world in a meaningful way.  Here/there we are: with these things, our first connection is established.

I am overjoyed to bring you into my own piece of this world.  It’s small, but it might just be getting bigger.

Will write again soon,

Khara

Message in a Bottle Washed Ashore