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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Fully Me

It's time to write. Sometimes I start a post and I have the first sentence perfectly prepared. Then there's times like tonight when it's nearly 11 pm and I should be reading or sleeping or doing my dishes but instead I pull up my 6-year old laptop that amazingly still works even after I've dropped it on the floor multiple times and eaten so many meals over the keyboard that I could shake an entire loaf of bread out of it and when I tried to clean the keys I managed to ruin the plus/equal sign and the delete sign, which is fine because I can just use backspace but when I'm trying to do my accounts I have to copy/paste the plus/equal sign from a Function and it really gets kind of annoying.

If I couldn't write, I think I wouldn't manage very well. I imagine if one day I got put in prison, in a dank mud cell somewhere in a jungle or on a mountain, that I would find a twig and carefully scratch it into a stylus and use that to etch words into the walls and on the floor. I have to write. Even if I'm not writing anything particularly riveting, or original, I still have to write.

Sometimes, though, I don't write. I have this ongoing tension in me when it comes to capturing moments. It's like taking pictures. I love the new selfie feature on smartphones and I use mine all the time so I can share my experience with my family and friends. In those moments when I really want to remember, I find myself frustrated, though, with the selfie notion.

See, I would much rather just experience the moment and then relive it later in my memory than revert to a grainy, dark-lighting, awkward smile or eyes half-closed picture or even one that looks great but is stilted. I feel responsible to take a photograph, just like I feel responsible to buy two jars of jam when they are on sale because I know I'll eat enough jam that it makes the deal worth it. But when I pause the moment so I can "just take a quick photo!" the feeling is gone. It's changed from being fully present and experiencing the emotions and excitement to posing so we can look good and wondering if I should upload it to Facebook or just share it on the family chat.

I'm on my fourth notebook since I arrived just over two years ago. Somehow life has been rather full of things to write about (and yes, I write the old-fashioned way, with a favourite .38 colour pen from Taiwan in a college-ruled notebook with a fun cover) so I write. There have been experiences, though, that I have not fully captured in a word portrait in my college-lined notebook. The sweetest memories are best remembered with the heart--not placed in sterile frames or inked out in darkest black on gray lines. I've bubbled over sharing those experiences with my family over the phone, and only in speaking do I completely recall and recapture each thrilling second, but the notebook only holds the briefest of sketches.

I used to wonder why the Gospel writers said that if they tried to write down everything Jesus had said and done, it would require many books. I understand now why. It's because they loved Jesus so much that every word He spoke, every behaviour, every mannerism, was dear to them and it was impossible to describe every one. They had to content themselves with highlight reels that best reflected each minute they treasured with Him.

Perhaps it is better this way, to let the essence of the memory distill in time. It both dissipates as details blur and engraves itself in my mind as the specifics are rehearsed over and over. The story deepens in meaning while holding a place for me to revisit to claim a piece of my identity that has now been touched by this memory.

Perhaps this is the TCK way then--reluctant to hold what is most precious to me in a photograph or a paragraph but rather to let it slip through my heart's fibers as it weaves together with many other memories slowly defining who I am. Because that is how I want to remember my life--not regret from choices made for me or ones I felt responsible to follow through on, but deep joy because when the moment came I truly lived in it. No frozen smiles. No attempt to write down every word verbatim.

Fully present; fully alive; fully me.

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