Tag Archives: Meditation

Writing in the Rain

Rio de FlagI may not be jumping around like Gene Kelly in the rain (writing while dancing is ill-advised, and I would know, because I’ve lost four laptops that way). But I do like writing when it rains.

Growing up, I usually had plenty of free time during summer and Arizona’s monsoon season. In college, I took summer classes during the rainy months, and spent a lot of time indoors next to a window, writing. I associate rain with writing, and I enjoy desert rainstorms. The temperature drops, and the moisture makes everything smell more vibrant, the pine trees and shrubs and soil. Even an overcast sky makes me want to write, even if what I end up writing is terrible.

It’s safe to stay inside when it rains. Overcast skies mean lightning. In the Midwest, rain can sometimes mean tornadoes and flooding, and in Arizona the monsoons always accompany flash flooding, to the point that Arizona even passed a so-called Stupid Motorist Law, which requires drivers who enter flooded areas to pay for the cost of being rescued. I can’t write about rain like it’s a benevolent god when the opposite is equally true. Rain can destroy. But having grown up in a state that, in a few years, will have no water at all has made me appreciate the rain in all its destructive beauty. Noah had the better apocalypse. Drought is not the end I would choose, but it’s what I’ve been dealt.

Rain also feels safer to me, somehow. A swollen, grey-haired overcast sky stretching from horizon to horizon feels like a second roof over the roof over my head. I can hide behind rain curtains, like I’m waiting to go on stage and give a speech or monologue or stand-up routine. It precipitates anticipation, motivates me to prepare for something, but I never find out what. So I prepare by writing, and after the clouds dissipate, I wait for it to rain again.

-jk

Where Has All the Introspection Gone?

Aran Islands Coast

However, the self, every instant it exists, is in the process of becoming, for the self does not actually exist; it is only that which it is to become.” SΓΈren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death.

I may not be a depressed Danish philosopher, but I still appreciate the above quote whenever I try to examine my life. The problem, however, is that I have not actually examined my life for several months.

This past semester was one of the most challenging I’ve had. Apart from school, I applied to eight graduate programs, balanced a new job with my old one, and dove into numerous extracurricular activities. Every date on my calendar was a deadline, so I kept going and going, nonstop, without a moment’s rest. Now that I have a break between semesters, I can pause, breathe, and look at myself in the mirror.

But for the past several months, I have not had a single moment of introspection. I confined my thoughts to academia and packed all my energy into other projects, research assignments, and work. I spent so much time looking out that I’ve nearly lost my ability to look in. Now, I find it difficult and even painful to examine my own life, to place my actions under a microscope and investigate the mechanisms of my identity.

Introspection is at the heart of my ambitions, artistic, intellectual, spiritual, and social. I need to examine and reexamine how I treat others, criticize myself before criticizing others, and spend more time watching my self become what it is constantly becoming. I agree with Kierkegaard; I think our identities are always changing, like water traveling from the ocean to the clouds, from the clouds to the land, and from the land back to the oceans. I cannot resist that change, but maybe self-examination can let me influence the direction.

-jk

To Whom It May Concern

Yesterday, while wandering the streets of Galway around the river, I found myself in front of a Catholic church built in the 1800s. I stepped inside, eager to explore a tradition with which I was unfamiliar. I had been in Catholic churches before, but only on guided tours with a camera in my hands and a ball cap on my head. This was different. This was an opportunity to find a new experience.

Church

I was alone inside the old church, and the silence was overwhelming in a city that otherwise was suffocated by the noise of traffic, crowds, and the river. I walked past a statue of St. Francis of Assisi, turned toward an organ, and made my way up the church to the front pew. There, I sat down in silence and looked around the bright room, engulfed in its old and magnificent imagery. The silence was almost alarming, as I had hardly a moment of solitude since my arrival in Ireland. I worried that somebody might come in and tell me I was in the wrong place, or ask me how I got past the Swiss Guard. After a while, though, I closed my eyes and listened to nothing, and managed to stop thinking for a few soft moments.

After a while, I opened my eyes, took out my notebook, and wrote a simple, one-page poem. I wrote it slowly, deliberately, one word at a time. I rarely take such care when writing. It was a brief poem entitled “To Whom It May Concern.” I tore it from my notebook, rose quietly from my seat, and placed it on the altar. After that, I left quickly, afraid that I would be caught.

I do not remember the contents of the poem. After I left it on the altar, it no longer belonged to me. It was a gift to the first person to find it. All I remember about it is that I felt satisfied when I finished it, that it was about light, that it ended with the line “Dona Nobis Pacem,” and I signed it “jk.” Perhaps they will think I was joking, or maybe it’ll be thrown away, or maybe it will be read aloud at Sunday Mass by a curious priest. For me, it was out of the ordinary, but I felt peaceful when I placed the paper on the sunlit altar. I’ll never know what happened to that little poem; all I know is that it set sail for uncharted territory just as I did two weeks ago.

-jk