Friday, May 16, 2008

And the Maylong begins...

It's 8:28 pm and it's 28 degrees celius. (Which, according to the thermometer in my truck, is 82 degrees fahrenheit in American dollars.) Love the way numbers overlap like that - there's a Twilighty feeling to i'tall.

I'm sitting in my backyard, on my hard white plastic chair, next to a flat of geraniums and a flat of lobelia. On my lap is this computer device and beside me is a stack of books (books with alot of pages. I used to love big fat books, but lately, I find I lose interest in hanging in there til the end. Novellas seem more my speed these days. Is that an aging thing? An attention deficit thing? A case of me picking bad books thing? A love of movies more than books thing?) anyway, beside me is a stack of books and I can't decide which one to start. Kavalier and Clay? (Rachel? I know this is your book. It should be the first one I read so that I can return it to you. But the cover? Meh. Seems so uninviting...) Or should I read The Short History of Nearly Everything? How about Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? How to be a Canadian? Exile? Safely Home or Heaven by Randy Alcorn? I am rich with reading options. Rich.

I live in a subdivision. Which means that I don't live on a farm anymore. For a huge chunk of my life I lived on 25 acres next to neighbours who had 25 acres. The only sounds one heard in the evening where the buzzing of the power lines crossing through the property, the cows calling my dad to bring them some hay, or the coyotes in the back field singing even-song.

Here? Now? In this life? My grown up life?
I share night air and fence posts with 4 neighbours, all of whom have friends over. They're sitting outside, visiting. Some are noisier than others and I just realized how easily sound travels and how this is so not a good thing when the sounds from my house have been loud and maybe a little anger-filled on occasion. What a great witness I am.

The teenaged girls in the house behind us were in an upstairs room, looking out the window earlier this afternoon. (There's really only one thing to see when they look out that window - and that would be my back yard.) They must've noticed Clint sleeping on the trampoline, tanning his back because the music got turned up, fake-joy-filled singing pierced the air and loud silly talkngiggles (hey, listen to us, we're here, we're girls, we are having so much fun...) ensued til he went inside.

With Clint and Max gone their separate ways for the evening (don't even get me started on that. Oh my goodness. Clint is going to Vancouver to a concert by himself. He thought a buncha friends were going to get tickets, turned out no one else did, so he's going by himself. WHAT is that? Everyone in that club is going to know HE'S BY HIMSELF, like it's totally OK or something. Kids these days. Absolutely no stigma to being single. The first year after Mark left I didn't want anyone to know I wasn't loved in that special way that gives a girl her identity, so I did crazy things. Like, go to White Spot and order 2 meals for take out, "one for me and one for my hubby..." And here is this kid of mine, making a mockery of my insecurity. Not only that. He's in VANCOUVER by himself. The big city, where bad guys are hiding everywhere just waiting to steal him because he's so cute. Sigh. "Dear God. Please watch over him. Send a couple angels to protect him. Keep all mean guys busy with other things. And don't let a skanky girl come on to him. Amen." ... and Max left to play frisbee after school and hasn't come home yet. I'm paying $70 a month in cell phone charges just to be able to keep in touch with him and do you think he answers my calls? "Dear God. Please hang out with Max tonight. Protect him from stuff and things ... Amen.") with both boys gone, it's just Drew and me at home and he's now into his 6th straight hour of playing XBox Live. He's got his headset on and is talking non-stop to his online fake friends.

If I try really hard, maybe I can teleport myself to a camping situation. One where there are no downtown concerts, where evil is not lurking behind every parked car, where the internet doesn't rule our lives (says she with an internet connection right here in her lap) and where I can talk to a person who has as many face wrinkles as me.

I did finish reading a book this afternoon:

It's "one man's humble quest to follow the Bible as literally a possible". From the inside cover flap, "Raised in a secular family but increasingly interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, AJ Jacobs decides to dive in headfirst and attempt to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year. To be fruitful and multiply. To love his neighbour. But also to obey the hundreds of less publicized rules: to avoid wearing clothes made of mixed fibres; to play a 10 string harp; to stone adulterers.
The resulting spiritual journey is at once funny and profound, reverent and irreverent, personal and universal and will make you see history's most influencial book with new eyes..."
One of the first things he does is go to a Christian Book store to buy few versions. He asks for help and his salesman, Chris, "points out one Bible I might want. It's designed to look exactly like a Seventeen magazine. This one's good if you're on the subway and are too embarassed to be seen reading the Bible, says Chris, because no one will ever know its a Bible. It's an odd and poignant selling point. You know you're in a secular city when it's considered more acceptable for a grown man to read a teen girl's magazine than the Bible. He also pointed out a waterproof Outdoor Bible so that I could study the scriptures even during floods and other Old Testament weather patterns."
I underlined a whole lot of sections in this book, sometimes because they were funny, sometimes because his thoughts were so enlightening. His thoughts on praying for the first time: "Sitting is tempting, but it seems too easy. I'm of the no pain-no gain mind-set. So I settle on holding my arms outstretched like a holy antenna, hoping to catch God's signal."
But my favorite part of the book was when he observed, "I'm trying to fly solo on a route that was specifically designed for a crowd. This year I've tried to worship alone and find meaning alone. The solidarity approach has its advantages - I like trying to figure it out myself. I like reading the holy words unfiltered by layers of interpretation. But going it alone also has its limits, and big ones. I miss out on the feeling of belonging, which is a key part of religion. I experienced this most keenly during the biblical holidays of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. I tried to do them alone. I fastened. I ate sweets. I sent portions to the poor. But I was doing it cluelessly and by myself, and it felt empty. Many of my more profound experiences have some when I've joined a group, even momentarily, whether that group be large (the Hasidic dance party) or small (Amos, Julie and I singing "Amazing Grace".) Maybe I have to dial back my fetishizing of individualism. It'd be a good thing to do; the age of radical individualismis on the wane anyway. My guess is, the world is going the way of Wikipedia. Everything will be collaborative. My next book will have 258 co-authors."
I so agree.
Community is important.
Worshipping with others is awesome. (Hello? Creationfest?)
And finding a church family ... vital. Otherwise - you're flying solo. And that's never a good thing.
The interesting thing about this book, was that after being immersed in the Bible for one year, he never became a Christian in the end. So, if you're looking to buy a copy to read for yourself, you won't find it at Blessings.
Three things I'm thankful for:
1. Max is home. He and I are going to kick Drew off the TV so we can watch the latest TV series we've got on DVD. Hereos. Season 1.
2. It's the long weekend. And it's going to be great even though I'm not sitting around a campfire tonight.
3. Sunny weather predicted again tomorrow. Life is grand.
I just re-read this post. Oops. I told you how the book ends. Sorry 'bout that....

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