Sunday, February 28, 2010

Why Did I Get Married?

I'm not married, but I spend a lot of time thinking about whether I ever want to be. Some would say that since I'm not dating, I shouldn't even think about it. But I feel like marriages fail when you don't prepare for them. So if I ever want to be married, I need to know what tactics will keep that marriage from failing.

I come from a divorced home. This not surprising considering that my father and mother were each other's second marriage (60% of second marriages become divorces, My cousin is about to get divorced, which is still not surprising (41% of first marriages become divorces) despite all of our family's efforts to choose good spouses.

Six of the women in my family sat down the other night to talk about what's happening with my cousin, and at the end of it, I found myself wondering: why do we even bother?

Why get married? For love? Tina Turner said, and I tend to agree, that love is nothing "but a second-hand emotion." There are lots of times when you love someone you don't marry or marry someone you don't love. Plenty of our ancestors married people they didn't love and stayed together for 50 or 60 years. So I don't think it's all about love.

My aunt said humans are supposed to create families; in other words we marry to create a family unit for the kids we want to have. I think that perspective is fine if one wants to have children. But, in my opinion, having children is something that needs to be re-evaluated as well. My cousin has a baby, and although she loves her daughter very much, and her daughter is happy, there will come a time when she will suffer because her father is not around. Is it responsible of parents to bring children into a family unit that isn't "complete"? And some people just don't make good parents. They are too involved in their job or their personal pursuits to give a child the kind of attention it would need. So I don't think having kids is a valid reason to marry, not with the issues we have in America today.

So why get married?
The only thing I've heard that makes sense to me is this: marry someone who makes you happy and will help you do your life better than you could do it without them. My friend is graduating this May with degrees in English education and journalism. She is engaged to a man who will graduate at the same time with a degree in social studies education. They fit. They will help each other throughout life.

I think if we were all brutally honest with ourselves, we would not completely throw love to the way side, but we would acknowledge that a marriage is only partially about love; it's mostly about commitment. If we treated our marriages like our businesses (made time investments in them, thought about the future while planning the present, thought about the whole team/family) then maybe we'd have better retention rates.

Or maybe I'm just a huge cynic.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Living Lent in Lotus - the update

Based on the feedback I got from my friends on Facebook (where are all of my friends on Blogger?), I am officially giving up text-messaging for Lent, WITH this disclaimer:**Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday is 47 days. If you want to argue that Lent only goes to Good Friday, it's still 44 days. Lent is supposed to be a 40-day sacrifice, therefore I will be catching up on each week's text messages on Sundays (but not this Sunday because I started late).
I have already moved the messages icon to the second page of my iPhone. I have turned off the notifications, and I am letting everyone know now - if you really want to get in touch with me between now and Easter, texting is not the way. Don't think I don't like you anymore if I don't return your text. Also, don't be surprised if I call you (shocking!) in response to your text (I will likely be reading them at the end of each day to make sure no one wanted anything important).

"This is where the men get separated from the boys..."
I have a favor to ask:
CAVEAT: I am not trying to impose my sacrifice on you. I just want everything to be the best it can be.
Favor: Please don't let this mean that I don't talk to you for 6 weeks. I think that would just be silly. I understand that this is the information age. I understand that we all keep our friends and our news and our social networks in our hip pockets, but can we - especially those of us who I know are intelligent and good-hearted - just try it? Can we just see what happens if we actually pick up the phone just to say hi? Or write a good personal email about an interesting idea that happened upon us in class? Can we take this risk, together, as friends? And if we come out on Easter Sunday feeling like our whole world has crashed and we feel so far away from each other...then we'll make the necessary changes to mend what we feel like we broke. Deal?

"Its a lonely road to travel, and a heavy load to bear. It's a long long way to heaven, but I gotta get there." - Send Me An Angel
I am not dillusional. I don't think this will be easy. I know of one particular circumstance in which it will be very hard...but nothing worth doing is ever easy. That situation is one that is screaming at me to be patient with it, so I'm trying.
I am not giving up texting because it's bad or evil or whatever. I am not trying to disassociate myself from people. But there's got to be something at least vaguely amiss if I wake up in the morning and the very first thing I do is pick up my iPhone. This being said, I'm trying to learn to keep my iPhone in my purse or in the other room or somewhere that isn't on my person. One of the biggest Buddhist principles is non-attachment to elements of form (the physical, the temporal, the fleeting). So I'm seeking to cultivate some emotional distance between myself and my technology.

"May you be filled with loving kindness.
May you be well.
May you be peaceful and at ease.
May you be happy."
-Gattuso's prayer

"...and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
-Philippians 4:7

February 16, perfect '10 - Tuesday
Well, I've picked up my teraphim again (The Lotus Still Blooms by Joan Gattuso). I don't know what to tell the Christian influences in my life other than this: allI know is what I feel and as soon as I start reading about Buddhist balance and the Middle Way, as soon as I hold the japa mala beads in my hand, as soon as I just sit in lotus contemplating mantras I feel so much better. The highest form of comfort to me is sitting in lotus holding mala beads praying in tongues. I bet that's blasphemy (according to the by-the-Bookers) backwards and forwards but it helps.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, i.e. the beginning of Lent. I don't remember at which point in my life I decided Lent was something I should observe, but I'm sure I was at least 15 or 16. Lent is supposed to be spiritual preparation time for the modern-calendar-version of the anniversary of Christ's death and resurrection. It seems logical that I wouldn't be too worried about Lent if I'm not currently practicing what I'll term "traditional Biblical Christianity." But I read something in The Lotus last night about taking refuge in Christ's resurrection (yes, the Buddhist Unity minister said something about Christ's resurrection), implying a belief in Christ's sacrifice and the supernaturality of Christ's myth. She lined the Buddha and Christ right up next to each other as wheel-turners of universal understanding and then said we too can achieve that level of enlightenment.
"All the effort must be made by you. Buddha only shows the way." - the Dhammapada
"I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works..." - John 14:12

So if I have already tried and I know that the intersection of Spirit-filled and Spirit-led Christ-centeredness and meditation on and striving toward Buddhist balance is where I find my comfort, and Gattuso confirms that the two standards are in alignment, then it seems a proper thing to take the time of Lent to further cultivate the balance in my life.
So I will be observing Lent.
But from what shall I obstain?

A couple of years ago my friend gave up Facebook for Lent. I thought she was super-brave and wayy more diligent than I. I hear a lot of people giving up coffee or pop or chocolate. The aforementioned friend once gave up the elevator (and took the stairs everywhere). All of those things are nice, but I feel like if I give up something like that, I will be focusing on form (the physical, the temporal) and that is not the point.
"The only sacrifice is to give up that which has no reality." - the Dhammapada
I thought of giving up text messages. That would be the hardest thing I've ever done, which gives it the allure of spiritual importance, denying self in search of the Divine. But, I don't know if that's a good decision, considering that almost all of my relationships are long-distance. If I give up text messaging I severely limit my ability to be connected to those I love. I could call. I could email and FB message. I could write old-fashioned letters. But, in this modern society is there room for such an abrupt change? I would have to actually wait until I'm out of class to call people to say "let's do lunch." It sounds like a 40-day-long game of phone tag.
There is also the idea of taking Sundays off of the "fast." Play phone tag during the week and catch up on texts on Sundays?
It sounds plausible, hard, important, beautiful...
The proposal is this: no text messages from midnight Sunday/Monday to midnight Saturday/Sunday until April 4 and I would take the time that I don't spend texting (which if you're close to me, you know is a LOT of time) to read, meditate, pray...
What do you think?

A minister should be "a purveyor of transcendence in a world that is starving for the sacramental"- Dr. Robin Meyers

"Chaos mixed with passion is like keys opening doors to your desires. The more freely you behave, the more free you will become..." - Chaos Theory

Monday, February 15, 2010

From a story

He took her hand in his just as she would have turned to her work. He kissed her and said, "All you ever needed was to know somebody loves you. There's no stopping you now."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

To Read/Study:

1. The Gnostic Gospels
2. The Dead Sea Scrolls
3. The Da Vinci Code
4. Angels and Demons
5. Misquoting Jesus
6. Saving Jesus From the Church
7. Why the Christian Right is Wrong
8. The Audacity of Hope
9. The Conservative Soul
10. The God Chasers

The poetry of Rilke and Rumi

"Those who can't do, teach..."

("...and those who can't wed, plan." - from The Wedding Planner)

I have never really understood that quote. If you can't do something, how dare you teach others to do it? It doesn't seem to make sense. And yet, I think that's what happens a lot of times in society.

This is a short list of things that make me cry (other than the obvious things):

Julia Robert's character is just so damn beautiful, and Maggie Gyllenhaal's character is so painfully raw. Ginnifer Owen's character is the definition of endearing, and Kirsten Dunst is a bitch until the end when she's contrite - the epitome of a dynamic character. I don't agree with the decision that Julia Stiles's character makes, but I have to give her credit for knowing what she wants and how to argue for it. And of course, I love the discourse about what art is or is not and why.
"I came to Wellesley to make a difference, but to change for others is to lie to yourself." - Miss Watson
2. well written and emphatically spoken poetry
Sierra Demulder messed me up when I heard her perform at Sauced a couple of weeks ago. Her pieces are honest in a way that I never have been. Melissa May's poems motivate me move mountains.
3. good music
Kate Voegele's acoustic stuff, Miley Cyrus's "The Climb," Darrius Rucker's slow stuff, Brad Paisley's love songs, Franscesca Battiscelli's "Free to Be Me," Trace Adkins's "You're Gonna Miss This," Deana Carter's "Strawberry Wine," all the slow songs from the TV show One Tree Hill like A Fine Frenzy's "Ashes and Wine"
4. the very end of Sex and the City the movie
(after Carrie and Big are married and the girls are all just hanging out together)
5. teaching movies
Freedom Writers, Lean On Me, Stand and Deliver (Mona Lisa Smile goes here too)
6. every other time Barack Obama opens his mouth or writes anything down

hope is a concept that is beautiful to me, although its something that I often "hold like it's slipping" (thanks for the poetic image, Sierra Demulder)

This is a list of things I'm involved in:
1. School
I'm a teacher candidate hoping to get certified to teach English at the secondary level
2. Work
I'm an associate manager at the Build-A-Bear Workshop. It's fun, I love to make kids smile, and it's teaching me to let go of the things that don't matter (like what I wear to work and whether or not I look goofy while trying to make kids and parents happy).
3. The Oklahoma Student Government Association
I'm the P.R. Director and I'm not very efficient.
4. Intern for the Lt. Gov. Jari Askins (D) for Governor campaign.
5. In the application process for Kappa Delta Pi - the teacher's honor society - and the National Education of Women Leadership Conference (getting women involved in Oklahoma politics)

So what does this say about me?
I want to be a teacher.
I love art, good writing, music, movies, and politics.

What should I do with that?
Be a teacher?
Volunteer with political campaigns?
Probably yes.
Add a minor in political science or leadership?
Add a minor in Humanities?
Probably no.
Learn to play an instrument?
Could be fun and therapeutic.

Basically it all comes down to this: I know I can do/be anything, but I don’t know what will make me happy. I know teaching has something to do with it, but I don’t know if it’s just teaching English or if it’s teaching Humanities, or sponsoring the yearbook, or coaching cheer, or starting a youth mentorship program, or advocating for keeping the arts in public schools. I just don’t know. And I’ve never been very comfortable not knowing.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

National Public Radio - too public?

Ever since I started interning for a gubernatorial campaign, I listen to NPR on the radio on the way to the office. Linked is a story from their website about the U.S.'s CIA and other covert groups performing drone strikes in the middle east. The main issue with the strikes (other than their covert status) is the civilians who are sometimes killed in the process. As is the norm in the news media (particularly broadcast), the broadcaster invited scholars and other knowledgeable parties to discuss the story and give their opinions.

As I listened to the story, I wasn't able to decide if I think drone strikes are against America's ethical code or if they are a necessary evil, a means to an end. The confusion of that story, and the implications it could make toward our president and our secret services make me wonder if the public always has the right to know. Even the scholars were torn in their opinions of the matter, so can we assume that the average American really understands the issues, really knows what is at stake?

Perhaps I am a cynic, or a snob, but I don't feel like the average American knows enough about covert operations, the Secret Services, or the power of political leaders in non-democratic nations to be able to make a moral judgment on the government's decision to perform drone strikes.

This is not just about the ethics of war. This is about the media system we have set up where the public knows everything. Are covert operations really covert if everyone hears about them? Are the Secret Service truly secret if all the media outlets are telling their story? Don't get me wrong. I was once a journalism major. I love NPR. But should some topics be off limits? Is a free press always in the best interests of the nation? Are the rules different in war time?