Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Little Reasons for Living

I like to make lists.  Many of my lists are negative.  I know lots and lots of these "Reasons to Smile" list exist, but that is not going to stop me from making my own, personal list of joyful things in life.  I have made a list like this in the past in a notebook.  I am starting over, with elements that are the same and elements that are different. Smile!
1) Butterflies
2) Sustainable food
3) Inspiring quotations
4) My family
5) Purple pens
6) Colorful office supplies
7) Best friends
8) iPods
9) Cities 97 and their Sampler CDs
10) Macalester
11) Having my own dorm room
12) Crayons
13) Impressionist paintings
14) Tutoring at Grace-Trinity (Patricia and Samera)
15) Hot baths
16) Great books
17) Informative books
18) Books just for fun (chick lit)
19) Libraries
20) Earrings
21) Headbands
22) Wearing flowers in my hair
23) Snail mail
24) Naps
25) Hugs
26) Idealism
27) Getting to choose the in-store play at Barnes and Noble while working in music
28) Reaching sudden understanding (lightbulb!)
29) Tea
30) Tortillas
31) Orange Juice
32) Babies
33) Puppies
34) Laughter
35) Argyle
36) Nerdy glasses
37) Boys
38) Being able to help someone
39) Words of Affirmation
40) Holding hands

To be continued...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Becoming a Bloggist, or something like that.

Hi, my name is Mariah, and this is my first blog post.


Well, not really.  I have been blogging for several months now for an organization called Catalyst.  There, I blog about food, mostly school food and food politics.  I have long wanted a personal blog, but I already have a personal journal, and I generally do not assume that other people care all that much about the random musings that fly through my head.  Yet, in the age of facebook posts where people tell you they have school tomorrow, (Really? I never would have guessed.) it seems we all have this desire to put ourselves out there, and perhaps I have something valuable to contribute.  When I was little, it was my dream to become a published author.  Though those dreams have mostly faded in favor of things I am better at, I still have fantasies that one day my journal may not only be historically valuable, but also enjoyable for public reading.  But for now, I'm hopping on the self- publishing bandwagon.


The problem is what to write about.  And I'm still figuring that out.  But today I decided what I wanted to put in my journal was actually the perfect place to start a blog.  After spending much time reading and finally deciding it was time to begin calling it a night, a thought popped into my head in that semi-profound, semi-insane fashion that thoughts do while you are brushing your teeth.  I don't have a single unique thought in my head.  A single unique thing to say.


This idea would have depressed me once upon a time.  A lot.  But it isn't (necessarily) that I am not creative or that I am a very boring person.  It is simply that:
#1)  All of my thoughts have been influenced by something outside of me.  Attempting to be original is futile.  Your thoughts, your writings, everything comes from something else that already exists.  Yes, there are ways to be novel, but never independent of influence, at least not in the kind of world I live in.
#2) While you are running around making up things that are supposedly unique, or simply just living and thinking, 7 billion people are doing the same thing.  And this is where it gets beautiful-  because of our shared humanness, we all go through similar experiences, thoughts, and feelings at one point or another, even when our lives are vastly different.


And number two is the reason why I think people choose to write, why they make music, why they dance, why they paint, draw, sculpt, talk, express.  We have vastly different ways of expressing these similar thoughts and feelings.  When we express ourselves, we give a gift.  And when we receive the gifts of others, we share in our humanness, in the beauty that comes from sharing, in the vastness and smallness of our world.  And the world is brought together by what we have in common.  Chalk it up to an evolutionary advantage of being in a group, a God-given gift of fellowship, or just something meaningful to pass the time, it is beautiful.  


When I read the works of others, when I listen to music, when I see a piece of artwork, I get to learn about the creator.  But I also get to learn about myself.  And over, and over, and over again, someone has expressed exactly what is on my mind in a more articulate way than I could ever dream of doing.  It makes me feel whole, and most importantly, it makes me feel like I am not alone.  


The fourth grade girl felt so much more normal and okay when her best friend swam the sea of awkwardness after Growing and Changing class and said she was uncomfortable and afraid.   


The eighth grader sat struck dumb on her bedroom floor, wondering how a girl in hiding from the Nazis could write such hopeful messages for world change and peace in beautiful words, expressing what the eighth grader also wished for the world.


The sophomore, shaking in English class, trying to hold it together after the death of a good friend to cancer and the diagnosis of another friend that came immediately after held onto a song, a plea to God, "Please don't let me go, I desperately need you."  


The senior read aloud the passage about betrayal over and over again because even though she hadn't been cheated on, that was exactly how she felt when he decided to leave.


The college first year awkwardly perched on the edge of a platform holding chairs in a packed black room, wondering how the students competing in the poetry slam could make her feel, deeply and truly, something she'd never experienced, and how they articulated who she was on that stage without knowing her.


So the reason I am choosing to publicly write is precisely that I don't have a unique thought in my head.  Certainly, I cannot ever represent an entire population in any form.  But each person, I hope, will be able to identify with the humanness of my thoughts, my hopes, my dreams, my rants.  Because I am not entirely unique, I can offer myself to the world, and in turn, the people I reach can receive little bits of themselves.