When I was a little kid, I always went to my church’s Christmas Eve service. One pastor turned off all the lights, lit a candle, and said it was the light of Jesus shining in the dark world. Then, the person next to him lit their candle with his flame. It was a chain reaction, until the whole sanctuary was aglow. It symbolized evangelism. Now, I like to think of that Christmas Eve ritual in a non-religious context. If we shine, others will come near to us. (Maybe there is a reason the human eye is attracted to light?) They will be inspired by our light, and will transform into quiet flame themselves. Perhaps the most intriguing part of this analogy is that the unlit candle always reached over to the lit one.
Now, I’m not saying that we should stay stagnant and wait for everyone to approach us. The meaning in this is that we need not be pushy or grandiose in our kindness efforts. Trying to lean into someone else’s life with our flame could easily burn them, thus instilling in them a fear of tender fire. We don’t need to start our own hunger charity or volunteer overseas for twelve years. Sometimes, the best way to inspire others into a life of goodness is to live a life of goodness ourselves. Be gentle, but fair. Be kind, but just. Seek to understand and empathize, but do not abandon truth in the process. If your flame begins to dwindle, lean to another and light it again. There are seven billion of us on this planet. As long as just one person is ablaze, we are not lost. We are never lost.
It is also important to remember that every candle is different. Some are tall, others are short. Some are old and melted, others are still young, but every single one is beautiful. One light does not shine like another – and isn’t that the most wonderful thing? What attracts one may not attract another. That’s why variety is so vital. That’s why each flame matters, why we should never hide our light under a bushel (no!). Your flame could be what another lost candle needs to start glowing. Saying that there are billions of other candles to glow is no excuse to hide away, whether out of fear or out of greed. Your candle is just what another may need. The world could never glow if each person assumed that another would shine. We cannot live on the assumption that somebody else will do good work. We must do our own good work, out of love and duty.
Because, after all, it is the light of love and duty that pulls even the thickest darkness out of its secrecy and into luminous truth.
Earlier, I was trying to reflect on some of the grossest, grisliest stories of my childhood. The first one that came to mind was the story of the poster spot. If you don’t like to read about mildly disgusting things, then this very short tale is not for you.
When I was six or seven, I had a cold. I sneezed on my wall and some grossness got splattered on it. Because I was a lazy shit, I just waited for it to set and then put a High School Musical poster over it. My tastes changed, and I just kept replacing the poster. The years went by and I started putting more things on my wall in different places. Sometime in freshman year, I bought a full-size map of Middle-earth. There was nowhere to put it, so I took down my puppy poster and placed the map over the spot.
So right now, under my Middle-earth poster, is decade-old mucus. I’m afraid to take the poster down and even attempt to clean it at this point.
Next year, as a senior, I have the opportunity to take a teaching class. Basically, I’ll get to learn all about teaching, psychology, and kids. I’ll also be able to observe classrooms of different grade levels and even intern in the spring! I’m immensely excited. As for my other classes, I’m going to take AP Psych, which goes right along with the child psychology I’ll learning in the teaching class. I’ll enter my fifth year of French study, which could really come in handy if I decide to do overseas humanitarian work in French-speaking countries.
I want to go to a four-year college, preferably within my home state, to study education and psychology. I’ll go on for my master’s because that’s basically required. Maybe I’ll pursue a doctorate. As for actual teaching, I’d really like to teach fifth grade. It’s such an interesting and important time in a person’s life.
I would really like to teach in the school system where I live. It’s close to my heart and I really like it. I’ve also considered spending some teaching in poor, low-income areas. Maybe at some point in my life I’ll do some teaching work in a third-world, French-speaking country. These dreams could give me an opportunity to combine my hopes for teaching with my love of the world.
Aside from my career, I want to get married and have three children. Three is a good number. Two feels like too few, but four is too many. And one day, I’ll definitely publish a novel. I’ve always known that.
That’s just a general overview of my future dreams. I’m really optimistic for my future, and I can’t wait to spread my wings and fly.
There’s someone awake right now. Every single second is watched by somebody on this planet.
You’re breathing the same atmosphere and living under the same sun as the ones you love.
The earth is 4 billion years old. The horrible thing you’re dreading isn’t so big in the grand scheme of things. It will pass.
There’s something blooming or growing somewhere on this planet.
Smiling is a universal language.
If you could get through this much of your life so far, you can get through this one difficult moment.
Everything has poetic potential.
Emotions aren’t foreign. You’re not alone with your feelings. Somebody else has felt them before.
Think about these things when you’re overwhelmed or stressed. They help me in my worst times.
The majority of what I write on my blog is about my feelings, my past, my opinions, and my thoughts. It’s my personal corner of the internet where I love to express who I am inside. The only issue with this is that when I want to write something that isn’t about me, it will be associated with me anyway.
I’m mostly referencing my stories and creative pursuits. I’m a dark writer. My stories don’t have fluffy endings. Life isn’t fluffy, so we must familiarize ourselves with the depths and be not afraid of horror. Darkness is also, in general, more creatively stimulating than light, or at least in a different way. I can be in a perfectly wonderful state of mind and still longing to write about pain. I can love my life endlessly and still write about death. It’s just my style. If I were to write a dark story or blog entry, however, my readers would be concerned for my well-being. I wouldn’t blame them at all; if I read something deep and dark on someone else’s personal blog, I would worry. When I do write dark things, I always put a little disclaimer at the top to let people know that it’s not about me or my life, but even those are rare. Maybe I really am uncomfortable writing those things here. My reader audience is wide and varied, and they include people from all different times in my life, and I’m not sure I want to share that kind of thing with everyone.
I guess I’ll keep the dark stuff for the low points in short stories waiting to be written. It could be motivation to start a story, after all.
I discuss my strong emotions fairly frequently, but I rarely mention what comes after them. Recently, I’ve coined the term “wet rag.”
After overwhelming emotions, I enter into a state of numb peace. Nothing can make me feel upset, even things that would normally elicit a strong reaction. I feel a bit glazed-over and shaky. Laughter can still come, though – in fact, wet rag is actually not an entirely unpleasant thing. It’s the recharge period in between strong waves of feeling.
The only problem with being wet-ragged (please read that “ragd” and not “ragg-ed”) is that all the emotional reactions I would have felt all come back at the same time. That’s post-wet rag. So, while wet rag can be the calm after the storm, it can also be the eye of the storm. It depends on how much hyperemotional stimuli I am exposed to during wet rag.
Overall, though, I’m thankful for wet rag. It’s a healing period, or at least a relief, necessary for proper emotional recovery.
Around March, my life starts getting boring. Stale. As someone who really needs a little variety to feel alive, that kind of thing needs to be addressed. It’s only late January, but that stale feeling is starting to set in.
It’s really not a bad thing. Actually, it feels sort of nice. When the staleness sets in, I get those variety cravings – and they feel like a sort of buzz. That buzz is the motivation to go do interesting things. And once I’ve done some interesting things, I feel amazing. If I don’t do any interesting things, I just keep feeling uninspired.
What do I mean by interesting and inspiring things? Well, anything different, really. Usually it has to do with appearance. Last March, I dyed my hair. I’m hoping to dye my hair again in the next week or so (it’ll be a lot louder than last year). Maybe I’ll learn how to do makeup, because I’m severely lacking in that area. I’ll work with my too-light, archless eyebrows. I could buy some clothes that go with my new hair color. And in terms of non-appearance, well, I could start kickstarting my school kindness outreach efforts again. You know, think of new ways to spread hope. Maybe I’ll work out more. It’s like New Year’s all over again!
Another great way to describe this time of year is the Bucket List Age. I start making bucket lists to make life more interesting! I’ll go over last year’s to see if I’ve missed anything. 🙂
A written reaction to being put down, fifth grade.
“Everyone thinks I’m so weird but they don’t even stop to think that Albert Einstein was weird and look what he has become. All those genius people were weird. No one thinks that maybe I have human feelings too and that somehow, somewhere I could change the world. If I was treated with respect I could soar instead of being chained up in lies. No one ever thinks that beauty is skin deep and even though I’m fat it doesn’t matter. I hate all the stupid people who have made fun of me. Because you will regret it when I change the world. And I’ll give my special thanks speech and you WILL NOT BE THANKED!!!!!!!!!!!”
To colleges, I probably don’t look very promising. I’m not the greatest test taker. I get anxious under pressure and I prefer to take lots of time to do things. I enjoy relaxed and slow work environments, and tests just don’t work like that. I’m also not the most fantastic student. Math and science are difficult for me to grasp. Thus, my grades aren’t straight A’s. They’re not horrible, but they certainly aren’t stellar.
What colleges can’t see is how I live. They can’t see me striving to live a life free of judgement. They can’t see me encouraging people when they make negative statements about themselves, or letting others borrow things from me, or making myself available to people if they need to talk. They can’t see me handing out lollipops with inspiring messages on them or holding up motivational signs on street corners. They don’t understand the immense adversity I’ve endured. They can’t hear the witty statements I make. They won’t read about the imaginary society I’ve created, or the alphabet I’ve invented. They’ll never see that acceptance and goodness, for me, are not traits – they are part of the way I live and think. Try telling me that these things are less important than grades and scores. I won’t believe you.
Colleges will look first at these grades and scores, though, and not who I am as a human being or what I value. How can I express that even though I’m not the finest student, I try to be a wonderful global citizen? For me, that’s far more important than a few numbers on a page, and I only wish colleges could see that first.
In the moment, horrible times in life seem daunting, overwhelming, or even pointless. We don’t understand why these things are happening to us. A good percentage of the time, we ourselves have done nothing to precipitate the events. We don’t deserve the hardship.
Once the pain has ended, however, we start seeing the point. Our past experiences shape who we are, what we love, and what we believe in. Because I was bullied for years, I do everything I can to accept people as they are. Because I’ve been hopeless, I try to be a beacon of hope and be to others what I needed at my worst. I love inspiring other people more than I would have if I hadn’t gone through horrible things. I wouldn’t be passionate without my stories of hardship.
It’s difficult to understand all this in the moment of suffering. When we’re hurting, we see pixels. They’re scattered, grainy, colorless, nonsensical. But when things get better, and our perspective widens, we see that those pixels are actually tiny pieces of an amazing portrait. They were small and grainy because we were so close. In the moment, that’s all we could see. Now we can see that those colorless pictures make up a part of our life painting in a beautiful way.
Remember – darkness and shading can make paintings come to life. Your struggles will bring your soul to life again and change how you think. The suffering will wash over you. I promise.