I saw a face in an open window
She looked back with stained compassion
"Are you really so much like me?" I asked
She did not give an answer
I walked on, then, and left her
The one whose face I recognized
But did not expect to see again
Some years later, I passed that way
Saw the same window, still open,
Though perhaps the house was different
But the face I saw in that open window
Was as much a reflection as ever
I saw a face in an open window
Life is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. What is going on, what is growing and resting and straining, is so much more than we can ever know — and even that is only one face of life, one side of a door.
Life contains so much, and is yet itself wrapped up in much more. Frankly, thinking of an unknowable and unchangeable future simultaneously bores and frustrates me. My devotion to the ideal of free will, however, leaves me with a stark reflection at the end of 32 years: so little in our lives is freely chosen, and that which is inside the sphere of "choice" is usually not what you think it is. Children, for example, are often lumped into "chosen" or "a surprise." Yet despite willfully pursuing pregnancy, my wife and I felt very little sense of control over any of the things that happened in the last year. Now that we have our baby, the baby we "chose" to have, I can't help wondering if anything would have been at all different with a "surprise" baby, a scenario several friends are facing.
Looking into the eyes of my newborn daughter, I am beginning to understand that in many parts of life—not all, but many—the choice is not what (or even whom) but how. Is it even fair to say that my wife and I chose each other? Whatever your take on that, we (eventually) chose to welcome each other into a new life—further up, further in.
I did not choose my daughter, but I have chosen to welcome her into my life, and I must welcome her again each day. Pooping, screaming, vomiting, and smiling. In time, she will welcome us into her life (or not) in a different way. Our life: beginning, continuing, day by day, together.
There are nice parks on the hills south of UCI's campus (heading toward the high-priced zipcodes of Newport Beach coastal canyon condo complexes) that give an amazing lookout over all the rest of Orange County. Most of them close at 6PM or "dusk", and the one I rode up to yesterday was already closed at 5:30.
I find this baffling, since the sunsets from such a vantage are really very lovely. I suppose the residents of Turtle Ridge and Summit Park want to maintain their exclusive ownership of the sunset views?
Or, perhaps yesterday's early closing was an isolated incident, simply because the city employee responsible for locking the gates was in a hurry to get home and watch the Grammy Red Carpet coverage...
I'm on PM shifts this week so it'll be a while before I can get up there around sunset again, but we must find a way.
I've been unsure of how to write on this thing for quite some time now.
I've missed writing, even if I can't remember what structure or schedule produced that writing back when it was frequent. Plenty of drafts are buried in this thing, half-finished ideas prompted by news stories, happenstance in my wanderings, or just reflection on things I've seen or heard. None of them made it beyond outline or first paragraph, though; I stall haven't figured out why, but I don't have to know why to know that I can change it.
"I don't have anything to write about anymore!" is always a lie. I don't know what I'm going to be writing, exactly, but I need to write, so here it is.
...Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, ‘Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,’ or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally, we shall insist on seeing everything—God and our friends and ourselves included—as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.
from Mere Christianity, Part 51
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952; Harper Collins 2001) 118.
To consider: in my old life, if I were sick and spending a day at home, a knock from a courier usually meant something exciting was about to happen. A book I ordered two weeks ago? A replacement part for a nearly-abandoned project being shipped from Hong Kong ($0.99 and Free shipping!) via the slowest route possible? In my new life, packages I order come from "the Amazon" and arrive a few days later, with barely a knock on the door; the courier who knocks on the door is delivering a priority-express-document package from some third-world country with important documents for my wife to look over (pertaining to the immigration case of some desperate individual.) [sigh]
The thirteenth is a day of Christmas choir performances, half-watched DVDs, and reading obscure novels during long drives.
It is a day of not-quite-functional washing machines, gas heaters that blow themselves out, and toaster ovens that don't quite hold all four slices of pizza at once.
The thirteenth is a day of leftover pizza, stolen french-fries, and chocolate chip cookies that were freshly-baked when you left home and invisible by the time you go to bed.
It is also a day of "I'm tired let's sleep in", of "it's too cold for t-shirts but much too warm for sweaters," and of "I think I might still be fighting off that stomach flu, maybe the pizza was a bad idea."
The thirteenth is, in short, just another Friday. But *what* a just-another-Friday it is.
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