September 27th, 2010 § § permalink
So, I don’t usually promote things. Not sure why, but it’s probably because people who are always telling me about things I need to sign up for/support/get as crazy about as they are annoy me. This is an exception to that rule. I love Donald Miller’s writing and what he stands for (blog-post-like books about the intersection of the gospel and real life). If you have read his book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”, you know that a Blue Like Jazz movie is in the making. Several investors (not all) have backed out of the movie and they need to raise $125,000 to make up the difference by October 25th.
You can read here to learn more about what is going on
You can go here if you’ve already heard enough about it and want to donate.
I think everyone would be enriched by this project finishing and being released in theaters. You may or may not agree. I donated to this. I think you should too.
September 24th, 2010 § § permalink
Sometimes, I think that everything that’s ever been written can be reduced to the word help. I think that if we were all more honest, and less concerned about the things we always concern ourselves with, we would write help all over our bodies and clothes, because when you think about it that’s what you want to say the most to people, as in “I’m Tyler, please help”. That’s what I say to Jesus over and over and over and over. Not like a mentally-ill patient who keeps repeating “black cat bean” because his head isn’t tied to his heart, or to itself, in the way it used to be, but like how people who mean it say “I love you” over and over because it means a little bit more, a little bit deeper, each time.
When I’m alone, which is often, ache begins it’s slow, upward spiral. It used to drive me wild, and cause my heart to lean it’s weight again, and this time harder, against the restraints Reality, in her matter-of-fact way, had put on me. “If I fill myself with enough want…” I hoped. I don’t think it’s maturity, I don’t know what it is, but I’ve become more quiet and content to ache. Maybe it’s that I know now that things like love and death are complicated, and that I’m only one person, and that my heart is only as big as it is, and can only hold as much as it can hold. I think I used to spend a lot of my time thinking about all the unlocked potential inside of me as if there actually were some, as if the world of My Bright Future were real. I used to listen to my high school teachers talk about how we were all going to save the Republic and whatever, as if Jesus were American. They meant well, and I probably didn’t always understand what they were really saying. It’s not wrong for teachers to try and inspire their students. I appreciate those teachers a lot, it’s just that when a teacher tells you that someone else in the high school said that they were called by God to be President, my first response shouldn’t have been jealousy, it should have been to say “turn that down, please. I’m 16 and I don’t know shit about myself, much less about being President”. I’m not saying that God doesn’t call people to that. I’m just saying that I wish that instead of that, they had been telling me to listen to what the Lord is saying and to have a good time at my soccer game and to be nice to my girlfriend, because those are the first hurdles people have to get over, not figuring out what your domestic policy will be in the future world that doesn’t exist. But maybe they were saying all of those things, and my cynical 17-year-old brain only picked up on the things that I could lash out at.
The world that I actually live in isn’t called My Bright Future. It’s called Present. I live there with some friends of mine and my family. I eat pasta and salad and fired chicken when I can there, I smoke after work cigarettes on my porch there, I listen to music and it makes me ache, and I write music and the ache doesn’t leave. I write words there and sometimes the ache leaves, but then it comes back and I realize I didn’t solve anything, ache just stepped out to get a half-pound of coffee at the corner store and has just stepped back inside, brushing the snow-melt from her shoulders and hair, and she tells me she’s back and asks how my cigarette was. Ache is a girl I would get over if I could, if I wanted to. Ache falls quiet, and quiet, and it covers things and it melts in the necks of my boots and turns my mind back toward home except I don’t know where home is, in the way that no one really does when they think about it, and I don’t know if I even want to go there because I’m always afraid that finding home won’t be as good as wanting it. I don’t know if having if better than wanting.
Fall is here, and it’s weather is sure to follow soon. I want the kind of weather that turns your mind to drinking cider from a mason jar, to older leaves, to that just-warm-enough-in-the-cold feeling. I want to smell like wood-fire. I want to be around girls that smell like wood-fire. I want days measured out in music. I want to be under the weight. I want my heart to breath deep, and take its time.
September 23rd, 2010 § § permalink
September 23rd, 2010 § § permalink
This is one of those nights when every word is too loud and doesn’t mean what you need it to mean. Saying that my world is dark right now is too dramatic, too easy, too untrue. I am in half-light, my heart is in half-light. It’s funny, like the kind of funny that makes you quiet, how love is always in the other room, and my heart calls out to it every few moments to make sure it’s still there. Love is too loud a word, turn it down please.
What I meant to say is that there wasn’t a tree tall enough to see over this. What I meant to say is that I fell in before you, and then again after you . What I meant to say is that I know what you’re going to say before you say it, and I don’t know why.
What I meant to say is that you’re right, we don’t know who we are .
September 21st, 2010 § § permalink
"So was I once myself a swinger of birches.And so I dream of going back to be.It's when I'm weary of considerations,And life is too much like a pathless woodWhere your face burns and tickles with the cobwebsBroken across it, and one eye is weepingFrom a twig's having lashed across it open.I'd like to get away from earth awhileAnd then come back to it and begin over.May no fate wilfully misunderstand meAnd half grant what I wish and snatch me awayNot to return. Earth's the right place for love:I don't know where it's likely to go better.I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree~And climb black branches up a snow-white trunkToward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,But dipped its top and set me down again.That would be good both going and coming back.One could do worse than be a swinger of birches."
There are things, and people, that move you. It’s hard to say why sometimes, and it’s even harder to know why because sometimes you say things that you thought that you thought but then a year and a half later there you are all punchdrunklovesad and aware, and you know that you might end up like this
and spending your time like this
and writing like this
and then like this
and then like this
and then like this
but thats ok because maybe that’s how everyone ends up.
when I was younger, I used to hope that hearts spilled like this
which isn’t wrong to want except that it’s not true(it’s also cheesy, which is really just another word for untrue). I don’t know if it’s wrong to want things that aren’t true. I do know I used to spend all of my time trying not to answer “Why do beautiful songs make you sad?” with ‘Because they aren’t true.’(Foer) but I did answer that way, I just wished I could stop, just like how sometimes you wish there was a net across the inside of everyone’s mouth that would catch anything they would regret saying. Anyway, what I found out when I got a little bit older, which is funny to say because I’m not even old now unless I die soon in which case these years will end up being my elderly years if you think about it, is that hearts spill like this
and that maybe when you ask someone to love you (because I think part of telling someone you love them is really asking them if they love you, or if they would consider it, or if they could) is really asking them if they would let you spill your heart on their page, and they could spill their heart on your page. It wouldn’t have to be the whole page, but enough to make sure it wasn’t the same anymore, and you could warn each other that with the way ink is it might end up filling up the whole page because ink bleeds slowly for a long time sometimes if there’s too much too soon, which is how anything is anyway when you think about it.
There’s really only a few things people say to each other. Someone I know, and that I know about, gets upset because they think some questions that people ask each other are just things that people say in order to fill up empty space, which of course is true sometimes but it can’t be true all the time because there are only a few questions that you can really ask anyone about anything and it’s not fair not to pay attention to why they are asking that question and to how they ask it. We all have enough to deal with already, we should assume the best whenever we can. A band I listen to called Arcade Fire always tell their fans to take care of each other at the end of their concerts, and that made me think that that’s something we should all say at the end of every conversation. Not to feel better about ourselves, but so that people are reminded. I don’t think messages like that can take the place of Jesus, I think it’s something that Jesus would say in a better way if He were saying it. He might say “I’ll take care of you” which would help everyone take care of each other because they wouldn’t have to try to solve every problem there is, they could just remind everyone that they’re already being taken care of. I wish that at funerals everyone had ink-stamps on their hands that would leave “me too” every time you hugged someone or patted them on the back, because that way when everyone got home and were changing out of their clothes, they would be reminded of that a hundred times and it would always be on those clothes, because maybe that’s the thing you should be reminded of when you get home from a funeral because everyone carries weight home from funerals, it’s just heavier for some, but maybe if everyone pulled on corners at the same time the weight would be more even for everyone. Maybe people write in order to make the weight more even for everyone, because maybe there are people that feel too much and people that don’t feel enough and when the people that feel too much write it fills up the people who don’t feel enough and then everyone is better, is safer. Or I wish God gave everyone a cup that would be more full or less full depending on how much you were hurting and when someone was hurting a lot people who were hurting less could come over and you could pour some of your hurt into their cups to make it easier, even if it were only for a little while, even if they poured it back into your cup when they left. The only problem is, I think everyone’s cup would be full.
Of the few things that we can say to each other, there are things I hope to say and mean, rather than say and hope to mean. I don’t mean how sometimes you go to someones house and they ask if you want something to eat or drink and you realize that they are really asking if you could let them take care of you for awhile and so you say yes even though you just ate or even though you don’t like vegetable lasagna, especially when it’s past the normal lifespan for vegetable lasagna. I mean how sometimes you say that no matter what, you won’t do/think/feel exactly what it is that you know that if you would stop being afraid you would do/think/feel and when you aren’t afraid anymore and you ask someone what they think about that they say they would if they could which you hear as “I would if I wanted to” because that’s what that means anyway, if you think about it.
Sometimes I wonder if trying to tell someone you love them will be like trying to tell them about the thing that happened and afterwards you were never the same because
September 13th, 2010 § § permalink
I saw a movie once about a man who was wrongfully accused of murder and shipped to a prison island somewhere. He spent a number of years trying to escape from the prison and he was always caught one way or another, with years being added to his sentence each time. Eventually, after maybe 20 years of trying, he escapes. That’s fantastic for him, but the scene in the movie that has remained most vivid in my mind is a conversation that he has with another inmate right before his successful escape attempt. He is trying to get this other inmate to escape with him, and the man looks at him and tells him that he ought to learn to be content with the garden he has been given to tend on the island and the food he has been given to eat. If my memory serves me correctly, he looks at the man for a moment and then turns his back on the man and walks off and, soon after, escapes. The movie ends with him strapped to barrels in the middle of the ocean, laughing and laughing and laughing and laughing. The kind of laughing that would remind you of madness unless you’ve come close enough to madness to know it’s the laugh of relief, relief that you aren’t in fact mad. I’ll forget my name before I forget that scene.
C.S.Lewis once said (or wrote, which is really the same thing if you think about it) that our problem isn’t wanting too much, it’s being too easily satisfied. He was probably being honest about himself when he wrote that, but, as is true of any great author, he was being honest about all of us at the same time. I used to have a poster in my freshman dorm room that had James Dean on it and the quote from him was “Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die tomorrow” or some such thing. Besides the obvious fact that James Dean probably never said anything that articulate of his own accord, it reminds me that we love to get caught up in quotes. It’s as if we think that to read something is to do something. I’ve thought that, and there are still parts of me that think that. There’s nothing wrong with being inspired by quotes. There is something wrong with being absorbed by quotes. You ought to listen to other people but you ought to always return to your own identity after you’re done listening. It strikes me that most of the things I’ve put myself through stem from a misunderstanding of either myself or of how the world works. See, you probably bought into that last sentence, in much the same way I have for most of my life. You probably thought “yeah, same here man” and then took another sip of your tea or coffee or whiskey. But that’s wrong. Most of the things I’ve put myself through stem from being too easily pleased, too easily satisfied. They stem from always re-dilating my eyes when God looks away so that I can ask Him to please wait to turn the light up any brighter, my eyes can’t take it right now you see.
Most of the time, I understand what I’m doing, and I do it because I want to. The idea of skeletons or ghosts or angry white men with knives or saws walking into my room at night doesn’t scare me, though it did when I was young. The idea of everything that could have been if it hadn’t been for my idiocy being shown to me scares the shit out of me. Maybe that’s why Oedipus stabbed his eyes out. There’s something about having to go on seeing things, or still being able to see things, that you’ve wrought that tastes like hell to me, and knowing is the same as seeing. If hell has gates, I wouldn’t be surprised if, instead of “Abandon all hope, all you who enter here” being written on them, God wrote “You were too easily pleased”. And I would be walking through those gates.
This isn’t a post about salvation. This is a post about how sometimes I think Proverbs lied when it said that a man’s heart is deep waters. It’s a post about how sometimes I’m perfectly content with my piece of prison. It’s a post about how, sometimes, I ask God for help so that the record will show that I asked for help. It’s a post about how I’m worried Christ won’t look me in the eyes when He meets me at the gate. You wouldn’t talk to me anymore if you knew what went through my mind sometimes.
September 8th, 2010 § § permalink
I wrote this poem this weekend while I was at UVA. I sent it to someone in return for a poem they had sent me which they had written while at UVA. The bargain was worth it, and it’s important that you know that in case you don’t like this poem. It doesn’t have a title, mostly because I couldn’t think of the right one and it’s better not to name something at all than to name it the wrong thing. That’s why sometimes I hope my wife thinks of good name ideas so that our children don’t go by “thing 1″ “thing 2″ “thing 3″ and “thing 4″. I won’t tell you what this poem is about, except that sometimes your heart is too full to say anything.
don’t say what comes to mind,
take another drink and step, sideways, out
into that blue-black pause,
all cigarettes and style,
all young and brave and wild.
laughter-through-walls, call softer
if you could, call more often.
I don’t knead grief anymore, but sleep still slips
out between sheets and tip toes across hardwood into another room.
it’s not cheating, it’s leaving.
You won’t be impressed by this,
but I drank the ocean for you.
best I could do on such short notice.
its storms are my storms,
we tattooed young on our fingers
lungs, so that anything that
ever touched us would know.
to be young is to be high,
is to lean your weight against love
draw what you see, I said, but meant
and our hearts are full of will-you-be-mine’s and see-you-next-time’s.
our minds are full of who we were.
I think less about steps I would unstep
because my heart isn’t tall enough anymore
I didn’t cave, I crumbled.
I didn’t stray, I stumbled.
If I could tell you one thing,