Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Almost There

Hope all y'all are doing alright; I'm hanging in there... not really ready to jump back into things just yet. School is just about over -- just one more day of class and graduation the following week -- but there's still plenty that's keeping me occupied. Maybe I'll try easing back into it sometime next week.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Monday, January 08, 2007

Hope and the Pelagian heresy

Perhaps there's been a bit too much thinking today. Or feeling. Or something. But whatever it was, there was definitely not enough working that needed to get done. And here I am, thinking, or feeling, that I should leave it be and do what's left to do around the house before going to bed, and then going to bed, and I'm sitting here writing a post that I've probably started and cancelled at least six or seven times already in the last half-hour because I thought I should just leave it be because it clearly wasn't ready to come out just yet.

Does any of this make sense? (Don't worry, it gets worse.)

So after learning about what happened to Helen Hill, I was thinking about how these things happen, and what can be done, and what it all means. Which is to say, how do people come to do these terrible things? And, how do you go on after something like this happens? And, well, what does it all mean? And I came to a point where I was thinking about free will.

And it's just like you're watching one of the Matrix movies, and it sounds like a cliché as you hear Keanu Reeves as Neo saying in your head: "It all comes down to choice."

Jenny Davidson begins her post "Helen Hill chose to be good."

You can succumb to the darkness and wallow in despair or you can find the strength to stand up and try to make it work. It seems hopelessly cliché, and yet, it resonates. Maybe it's just that I've watched too many sappy movies, but there it is.

I've recently came to accept that the challenges we go through, the difficult times, while unpleasant, are a part of life. An essential part of life. 2006 was a pretty rough year for me, but I think I went through a lot of growth. I'm in a better place, I feel like I'm a better person. And I realized that without a lot of that hard stuff that went on last year, I probably never would have gotten here. Which is not to say that I'm going out of my way looking for trouble, just that when it comes, I try to accept it for what it is and then do the best I can.

So the idea of free will wandered into my brain sometime around lunch. Later in the afternoon, the SOOTTAD sent me the post by Jenny Davidson where she talks about an idea from a John Passmore book which mentions the Pelagian heresy:

One version of that idea is the thing called the Pelagian heresy, the assertion (contra Augustine, who believed that man could be redeemed only by God’s grace) that man could perfect himself by the exercise of free will.
She later quotes an excerpt:
But we know from our own experience, as teachers or parents, that individual human beings can come to be better than they once were, given care, and that wholly to despair of a child or a pupil is to abdicate what is one’s proper responsibility. We know, too, that in the past men have made advances, in science, in art, in affection. Men, almost certainly, are capable of more than they have ever so far achieved. But what they achieve, or so I have suggested, will be a consequence of their remaining anxious, passionate, discontented human beings.
It is through struggle that we can make ourselves better, and we can help and support one another through it.

Anyway, I feel like I'm rambling a bit, but this whole thought process was nagging at me. And I kept trying to leave it be, until I caught a little synchronicity in Today's Show with Ze Frank. (Of course, theoretically, it was ultimately my choice to post this, right?)

I think that what I wanted to do was provide a small counterpoint to my previous post. I know what to do. It's just that sometimes, I feel so drained. And I need to take a step back and gather myself together before digging in and pushing forward again.

Do what you can. And hope for the best.

Mad World

Helen Hill died January 4, 2007.

I did not know Helen Hill, but it still makes me terribly, terribly sad. But the sadness is overcome by outrage to learn that she was murdered in her home. And it hits that much harder because she was a friend of the SOOTTAD's. As was her husband. As is her husband.

When the SOOTTAD told me about it, she described them as "two of the most purely nice, kind, loving, creative people I have ever met." And all I could think was, what is wrong with the world? What kind of world do we live in where such a thing could happen? Where such a thing could happen to people like this?

The headline in the New York Times -- "Just Days Into the Year, Killings Toll Hits 8 in New Orleans" -- seems absurdly distant. Same for the Shreveport Times. Another body count in a world full of violence. You could quickly scan it and wander off, troubled but largely untouched. I know these things happen, but knowing them, even once removed, cuts to the quick. The connection brings it into sharp relief, and yet it isn't necessary to have that connection to feel its impact. It was fundamentally a terrible thing to happen. A terrible thing to happen to anybody. It sparks anger, outrage and then more sadness.

And yet the despair currently surpasses the outrage right now.

I think about the insulated worlds in which I move. In school, I'm in contact with many people who want to be healers, people who want to make a living making the world a better place. Lots of warm fuzzies flying all around. A hopeful place. It makes me want to bring understanding into my perspective. People can be swept up by the tide of circumstance; desperation can cause people to do terrible things. But this seems to go beyond my understanding. I can't put myself in a context where one could do such a thing and still be within my perspective, my values, my world.

And I am left finding that I can only ask, how can you heal from a thing like this? All I can think to do is try and cherish all the good that we still have and do our best to protect and fortify it against all the bad that is swirling around us, but there seems to be something fundamentally wrong with that too...

The world's gone bad, and I wonder if it's gone past the point of no return.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Before and After

Also known as, what I did on my winter vacation...

Master bedroom

Second bedroom

Third bedroom

Gotta get back to the everyday craziness -- it's been a pretty painful transition so far. There's still plenty more to be done, but it probably won't get dealt with in any kind of appreciable way until the SOOTTAD is back from Chicago for good later this month.