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Just a twentysomething living my life and, as most my age, figuring it out as I go,

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"Beautiful Things Don't Ask For Attention"

Quick review and recommendation for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: It's incredible, go see it now!

Okay, now that we've cleared that up, let's talk about this movie and what it teaches and why it captivated me from the first preview I saw 6 months ago. Walter works for Life magazine as a film developer. He lives a life of daydreams-constantly interrupting his current life as he "zones out" into a world of fantasy and adventure. I don't know if I've ever related to a character as much as Mr. Mitty. His interactions with people are awkward and conversations brief. But finally, he decides to stop daydreaming about adventure, throws fear to the wind and just GOES! Yup, runs out of work, jumps on a plane and ends up in a different country with just the clothes on his back. Oh how I dream of that! To just say "BRB!" Get in my car, on a bike, in a plane or on a train and go somewhere I've never been, with just the clothes on my back. To live a life of whimsy and free-spiritedness. My heart aches for that. 
Two quotes from this movie that have been swirling in my head since I walked out: "To see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to, to draw closer, to see and be amazed. That is the purpose of life." That is the motto of Life Magazine in the movie. Don't tell me that's not a good quote! It captures the essence of what I wish for every day. I think some days it's to see things thousands of miles away but some days it's just to take a closer look at the things around you. It's to do something that scares you every day. To look around you in any circumstance and be amazed at its wonder. That is the purpose of life. 
The second is this: "Beautiful things don't ask for attention." I hesitate to give too much information, but at one point in the movie, the photographer Sean O'Connell is sitting on top of a mountain looking through his camera at a snow leopard, telling that snow leopards don't like to be seen and he utters these words. Isn't that the most wonderful sentiment. Things that are truly beautiful in life don't ask for attention. They reveal themselves just long enough for someone to notice them but are gone before they can be praised. The most beautiful part of a sunrise is only there for a second before the light boldly shines across the sky. And never once does it ask for us to look at it. It goes dutifully about its business every day, noticed or unnoticed. 
So maybe those thoughts will echo in your head as they have been in mine. But I love the fearlessness in this movie! It's a perfect tale of overcoming fear and challenging yourself to realize your true potential in life. 
So now, get off the couch, grab a loved one and jet it to the closest theatre to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Please and thank you!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Where time meets eternity

I have been reading "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis while on holiday from school. I don't know that I have ever been so enlightened by a fiction book. Each page just captures and convicts me down to the core. 
For those of you who don't know, the book is a series of letters written from Screwtape, a demon, to his nephew Wormwood, also a demon. Screwtape is advising Wormwood on how best to win his human patient over to Satan-known in the book as Our Father Below. It's incredible reading Lewis' words and hearing the echo of our Christian/religious language but in such a different light. 
Anyway, I am stuck on this chapter I just finished. I can't say that this will be one of those "10 Ways to Live In The Present" lists that's have recently scattered my Facebook newsfeed. But I just had to process through some things and hopefully challenge you to join me in changing our outlook.
The most recent chapter I read focused on turning the patients focus away from the Present and toward the Future. I have been keeping a note on my phone of quotes from the book and this one stuck with me for this chapter. 

"For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them."

I love it! The present is the only time we can actually connect to eternity. And not only that, but we are given a freedom in life when we turn our attention to the present instead of the future. I don't know about you, but I want that freedom. But I am also so convicted in these words. As I approach my last semester of college, I cannot even tell you how many times I have had the "future" talk. And I am just as guilty about initiating the "future" talk. It's so near to my thoughts as I wonder where I'm going to live after I graduate, what kind of job I will get, if my current plans will work out, and even if I am following God's will in making these plans. It's something that both horrifies me and completely excites me as I face this new horizon. But those thoughts are robbing me of the present. And there's a sobering thought in not knowing if I will even make it to tomorrow, much less graduation or moving somewhere new. I am not promised any of my future. But I do have today. 
So then I have to ask myself, what does it look like to live in the present? Here is where my mind goes somewhat silent. I kind of have been grasping around for those answers and so far here are a couple small ideas I have come up with. 

-Maybe living in the present manifests itself in being late to something because I saw an opportunity to invest in someone else. In other cultures, people show up late all the time because they do not see time as a commodity. So maybe sometimes it's okay to be late for good reason! 

-Also, maybe it means taking advantage of the few moments I have to talk to the cashier at the grocery store. It has to be strange being such a small blip in so many people's whirlwind life as they pass by with their milk and eggs. So maybe that means asking how their week is going or paying them a complement. Something more deserved than silence as you wait for a total.

-It most definitely means stepping away from social media. That's where I have been most convicted lately. I have admittedly wasted countless hours switching from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to Pinterest the past few months. Anything for a distraction or way of feeling valued when you get a like or favorite. It's a weakness our generation faces daily. But no real good comes from any of those minutes ticked away looking at my phone screen. I need some face-to-face action!

-I don't know this for a fact, but I'm pretty sure a good place to start is changing how you think. I'm so guilty of living day to day, week to week, milestone to milestone with my goals. Of saying "oh next semester, I'm going to..." Or "When I graduate, I can finally..."
No! Why not now? Tomorrow's an okay place to start, but even more so right now! I may not be around long enough to say or do what I really want to accomplish. That's motivation enough. 
And along with changing your mindset, maybe that means rethinking how you dream. I am a major advocate for chasing your dreams, no matter how crazy they may seem but I think too often we-myself entirely, overwhelmingly included-get too caught up in "one day I want..." and don't focus on the time we have right now. Let's face it, there may be some dreams that you just don't have time in your life to achieve. Maybe I won't get to live in England like I've always wanted. Or maybe I won't ever get to meet One Direction. Or maybe I will never work in a different country with trafficking victims. But that doesn't mean that I can't have other wonderful, beautiful adventures right now while I am still alive.
So this is a wake up call to myself and others to simultaneously go after your dreams right now while you have the chance but to stop focusing solely on reaching your dream and realize you can't live in the future because you might be missing out on the freedom to live in the present. The future, as Lewis implied in the chapter, is a series of unrealities. They do not and will not exist. Ponder on that! The future is just one big ball of question marks that trap and tangle us up. We worry ourselves sick about what we will do in the future and in the meantime, we are missing our chance at experiencing eternity. So again, I'm sorry for the unanswered question, but maybe this will be a challenge to you to figure out what your Present is and how you can truly experience the freedom we are granted when we really exist in it.