Wednesday, July 12, 2017

On the mope boat

I regularly wake up with a song in my head, and it’s usually quite random- after all, if you’re ever around me long enough, you’ll find I have a song for just about every occasion. Making pasta sauce? Stir it up, little darlin. Got to the crumby bottom of your bag of chips? All these pieces, broken and scattered. Apparently I’m food driven.  Anyway, when a song creeps up in my head in the morning, prompted by food or not, I can’t shake it off (it's hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him off) (Florence before Taylor 4ever). Absolutely, I'll sing the lyrics mindlessly, without consideration of meaning.

One morning last Spring, I woke up muttering words from Tears for Fears: “And I find it kind of funny, I find it kind of sad—the dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had.” Wes rolled his eyes, “OK MOPE BOAT, move it along.” And I chuckled.  Although he's learned to make light of my fluctuating moods, he truly cares, and tries with infinite best to summon a smile.  "ALL ABOARD THE MOPE BOAT," he'll jest.

But that morning, the entire bus ride to work, I realized the song was defining so much of the sadness and depression that was plaguing me those surrounding few weeks, months even. Didn’t know that was happening, did ya? Well that's ok.  Barely anyone knew.  We surrounded ourselves with people and good times, and I can be a pro at burying.  All I wanted to do was lie in bed and sleep or cry.  I'd take "bathroom breaks" that were really deep breaths to prevent myself from choking up at work.  Worst part of all this? I could never pin down the cause.  I was a mope boat in the middle of a still lake.  Nay.  A mope boat in the middle of a swamp.

"The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had." I asked myself if I've been so distraught because of dreams that died. After all, I stopped making art.  I mean, completely stopped creating anything meaningful.  Besides a handful of floral doodles in my bujo, I haven't made personal art in WAY over a year!  I tried the freelancer bit and made art for a living, but to be quite honest, it was grossly demanding.  I don't miss the business, but sometimes I miss the way art made me feel.  Maybe I'll go back to art one day, but today is not that day, and I am content with that.  SO content.

Speaking of contentment, what makes the mope-boat sadness worse is that I have every reason to be content! I have a wonderful husband, a cozy place to call home, a crazy/amazing church community, and a decent job.  We have food in the fridge, and friends around the dinner table.  We have a car that works, a garden that grows, and an AC to help us sleep.  I have reason to be content.  So I asked myself why I feel so much despair.  And I realized, I don't feel like my soul is dying because my dreams are dying, I feel like my soul is dying because I altogether just stopped dreaming.


And I think people have caught on.  With increasing frequency, I have heard kind questions, gentle encouragements, reminiscing the person I was.  Some from complete strangers who followed me on Instagram, some from the closeness of my husband, who tells me how much he misses watching me create.  They are reminding me of the power of my words, reminding me of the power of created things.  Not long ago, my pastor's wife took a moment to say those very things, accompanied by the verse, "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks."

But what if I'm not speaking, because there's nothing there?


I've been doing some self-inventory.  Figuring out what I have, what I'm lacking, what I've used up quickly, what I'm not using at all.  I found out I have little time, a lot of anxiety, and not a lot of motivation.  I found I've wasted my energy, I've miscalculated rest, and I said yes more often than I said no.

I'm doing an autopsy on myself.  Figuring out what or who hurt me, how I hurt myself, what could have been done differently, how to forgive.  I'm figuring out why I stopped breathing, why my heart stopped beating, why my soul stopped daring, why my mind stopped imagining.  I'm pinpointing if there were warning signs, preventative measures, love notes of caution.  But I'm not bandaging this corpse, I'm not mummifying the things I've done wrong, I'm not taking things apart only to commemorate the emotional breakdowns.

I'm asking myself what the resurrected life looks like.

And I don't mean I'll start lettering again, I don't mean I'll be a beat poet, I don't mean I'll open up the books of dreams I once had--owning a coffee shop, running a community center, becoming a photographer.
I'm talking about the resurrected life that recognizes what things had to die, what things must be evicted and restricted, what things must be forgiven and let go.
I'm talking about the resurrected life that, even if I wake up in sadness, I tell myself it is unnatural for me to feel joy, but I'll choose joy anyway.  The kind of life that, when I feel the building of anger, is the first to apologize and forgive--even if I am in pain, and even if the other person doesn't apologize or forgive me back.  The kind of life that, when I begin to panic because resources are low and needs are high, slams on the brakes and says prayers of gratitude, because my life is full, and I am alive, and I can trust in divine provision.  I'm talking about the resurrected life that creates and writes not for acknowledgment, but for catharsis.  I'm talking about the resurrected life that knows the power of constant forgiveness and undeserved grace.

I'm talking about the resurrected life that recognizes that the worst thing was not the last thing.

That I can begin again, and begin again, and begin again.
That a dream can die; nevertheless, I can dream again.


Currently Reading: Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
Currently Listening: "Blessings" by Chance the Rapper, Coloring Book
Currently Watching: Okja

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