Tuesday, July 27, 2010

In Architecture the Facade, in Anatomy the Heart

How much of who you think you want to be is actually someone that you think you’ll ever be? I’ve been learning a lot about myself recently. One thing I’ve realized is that the person that I want people to see me as isn’t the person that I am. I’ve also realized that the person that I want to be isn’t the person that I think I’ll ever be. I want to be interesting so people will find me curious and want to know about me, all in hopes that they’ll love me. Vanity.  I construct a façade, which is my life, in order for people to think certain things about me that I want them to think.

Let me try to break this façade down for you. I want to be adventurous so I do adventurous things. I not only want to be adventurous but I want to appear to the people I’m around as adventurous. So I do the things that come with that title. I get hammocks, knives, and camping gear, all to fulfill that dream. My latest attempt at adventure has been slack lining. I like slack lining a lot, but I didn’t start doing it because I liked it. I actually hated it to start out. I started it because I thought it looked cool, it looked like something adventurous people did…and so I did. Façade.

I would also acquire as many books as possible. If someone was giving away books, I wanted them. I would go into goodwill and local book stores and look for classics so people would think I was smart. I’d read some of them, roughly 3 to 4%, and the rest would sit like trophies on my bookshelf telling people how much I read and how smart I was. Me ain’t smart. Façade.

I don’t want to blog about things that hurt because I don’t want to give people the benefit of them knowing that they hurt me. Sometimes it’s much easier to have walls up towards people because, when you don’t let them know that they hurt you, then you know you aren’t giving them the satisfaction of knowing that they bested you. Façade.

The list goes on and on. I would want people to think that I was a rebel, so I would talk in class and show them I was more important than the teacher. I would challenge everyone all the time in hopes that people would realize I wasn’t afraid of anything. I talk to anyone and everyone all the time when I’m with people, when I’m alone this isn’t the case. Façade, façade, façade.

So you ask, “Page, what about you isn’t a façade?” Herein lays the rub. Because I am adventurous, I am smart, I am a rebel, I’m not often hurt, I’m not afraid of much, and I love talking to people. But the opposite is true too. How?

With all the things that you do and everyone that you love, you act a certain way. There is the person that you want to be, there is the person that you want people to see, and there is the person that people see. All of these people make up the person you are, all at the same time.

I’m realizing, in all my adventure here in Prague, how much I just want to settle down and have a lovely wife and unruly kids, and how much I miss home, wherever that is. My point isn’t to not do adventurous things, or to not read, or to be afraid of everything, but rather to do them for the right reasons. And the right reasons aren’t selfish.

I’m now 25 and I still do a lot of the things that make up this façade that I put up but the difference now is that I recognize it and say I’m sorry to the people that I’m hurting because of it. I actively try to let people see who I am by loving them the way Christ loved me. I fail often. Who are you really? Why do you act the way you do? What are you afraid of? Why are you afraid of it? Love. War. 

Things to think about
Can you still crack your own back by twisting in your chair?
Changing your habits for a week and seeing what happens.

Things to listen to:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

She Smoked 'lite' Cigarettes and Drank her Wine with Water

I was determined to make the most of my time in Prague, but, since I’ve gotten here, all I can do is read this book that an acquaintance turned me on to. Sitting on the metro car, all I was doing was reading the book; sometimes with pods in, sometimes out, while I walked and while I sat. I was entrenched in the story of the people’s lives so distant from lives like mine. Rooting for the protagonist and crying for hurt, I realized that, while reading can be a great thing, I was missing hundreds of opportunities to see people, see their hearts, and help them. Of course my only mission on Earth: to love God and love people.

And so it began...

Sitting in the subway, reading, God spoke to my spirit, “put your book down and look around to help someone.” I said, “ALL RIGHT” in frustration, thinking it was some huge act that God was pushing me towards, knowing he just wanted me to see the people and love them. So I asked God, “Show me who you want me to love.” The first person I saw was a 20-something sitting 10 feet from me listening to music with a handkerchief on his Tupac memorializing head. I thought if I told him that no one wore bandanas like that anymore, let alone at all, and he’d take it off and stop looking stupid. “Love, not judge” came a nudge.  I thought about easy ways I could start up a conversation with him. Yo man, what are you listening to, or you like Tupac, you got a cigarette, or any number of millions of ways to start a conversation. I sat in my seat watching. He was listening to some sort of hip-hop the way he was bopin back and forth. He wanted to be American with every ounce of his body; a cross between an 80’s thug wigger and a poser skater. This wasn’t the guy I was going to love. I prayed that he would find his way to someone that could show him the truth.

As I rode, I looked at all the passengers onboard, asking for someone to stick out to me. No one did. I got off the stop and realized that I was riding the wrong way for two stops. I cursed under my breath at how easy the metro system in Prague was and wondered, after two weeks, how I could still mess it up. I was in no rush and nothing pressed my time. I saw this Asian couple worn out from what looked like a hard day of work. The man looked disheveled, old, tired and the woman’s lips curled down as she attempted to rest with her head against the metro car window. “Do you want me to give them money Father?” I only had 350CZK in my wallet and didn’t want to offend them by giving them money. I sat and watched and didn’t feel like I should do anything. I got off the metro and headed up the escalator, this time, at the right stop. I was going to a get-together my TEFL friends were having before they went out.

I got onto the escalator and saw a woman carrying a heavy box, something she bought at the store. I decided I was going to help her carry it. I said can I help you carry your box and picked it up while she was answering. She said “that’s okay” in broken English. I walked and so did she. I explained to her that men were made to carry heavy things.

 I followed her to the bus carrying the box and we took a 35 minute ride outside of town to her apartment. Along the way we chatted about America and Prague, and why she knew the English she did, and other various crap that two strangers talk about who meet randomly on a subway escalator asking to carry something for the other.  “How I’m going to get home.”  The metro stopped at 12 and I had no idea where I was going.

I told her I want to help carry the box to her apartment. She said I don’t understand and I said I will carry till you say stop. She understood, smiled genuinely and we rode. We finally reached her stop walked 100 meters, elevator to floor seven. As I said goodbye she asked me if I wanted to get a drink. I said of course and we walked to a little bar right next to her complex. I got a beer; her, a wine and water. Her English was much better when she could hear everything I was saying in the lack of the metro. We spoke of her family, her work, and astrology. She commented how I was a bull and her, a lion. I thought all of it was bull but didn’t jest. We smoked cigs and chatted about the label on the warnings on the cigarette packages. Kouření může zabíjet. She tried to assure me she was a healthy person that smoked. I told her everyone in Prague smoked and that I didn’t care and don’t judge her, as I ironically lit another. She asked my age and I replied “25,” she said “you’re young” and I shook my head and shadowed “I’m young.”  “You?” “36.” I explained my curiosity and how I didn’t understand that no one in Czech had a beard like mine and she said I only saw tourists. We sat for over an hour; she paid, out of her waitress salary, much to my refusal, and said I could get the next one. She walked me down to the bus stop. I got her number and said goodbye. I thanked the Lord for a good night in Praha 10. The sad thing is that this isn’t an everyday occurrence for me but rather the exception to my life.

So why the story? Not because I want to impress you with my ability to make friends with strangers (there are other people much better than I), not to brag about doing something good (that didn’t take that much sacrifice), not to have something to blog about (even though I haven’t been able to write a good blog in months), not to brag about being in Praha while you’re not (even though it’s not as amazing as you would think). I tell the story for the simple reason to show you that people are people everywhere. They need help doing everything. You have the power to help them. God loves you and wants to use you to love others.  The exception is going to become the rule for me in my life. Love. War.

Things to think about:
-The best board game on the planet.  Trying to be impartial.
-How to communicate with someone that doesn’t speak your language
-My emoticon would have a beard. :-l}

Things to listen to:
My man Michael Gregory:
My man Michael Alvarado

Things to read:
We're in over our heads - real time debt clock

Other possible titles for this blog:
-“Melina and I smoked our lungs to death”
-"An Endless Supply of Beer and Cigarettes at my Disposal"

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

If Hadassah Was my Slave, I'd Let Her Free

I lied in my hammock and looked up into the trees. Something about them reminded me of home. I cried as I looked at them praying to God to help me understand why I make the choices I make. “God why am I so frustrated.” A surge of calm, frustrated peace swells over me as I begin to understand how powerful is the God that I worship, the lover of Heaven and Earth, and how limited I am at understanding his plan and how I fit into it.  

I rode on a subway alone. I sat next to a girl and looked at her. "You speak English?" "No." I sat there for another five minutes thinking how I could communicate with her and a brilliant idea came to me. Use her native language. I pulled out my notebook paper with the few Czech words I've learned. I practiced my Czech with her hoping to maybe make a new friend.  She smiled as I pointed to words written down and said them with her repeating them to me. Dobry den. Hello. Pronounced dough bree den. Dobre. Good. Pronounced dobscher. Jak se mate. How are you. Pronounced yuack sue motey. She smiled as I looked into her eyes for a brief moment wanting to know everything about her life.  I got off at the next exit saying goodbye in her native tongue, "Nashledeanon," knowing I’d never see her again and not caring one way or another.

They told me not to talk to Czech people in the subway. I told them I’ll talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere and I would do it often. I love people.

I’m overwhelmingly tired and I haven’t eaten much today (A few cashews and a bun of bread). I’ve always prided myself in not suffering from desynchronosis and not needing much food. I’ve also always prided myself in my ability to handle living overseas. So far my pride hasn’t been crushed…even though I pray for it. 

Things to think about:
-If you were a slave would you be able to handle it, or are you too selfish?
-Would you abort a baby or decide to have it? 

Things to read:
A Voice in The Wind - Francine Rivers