These are the chronicles of the esoteric . . .

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2009

mandolin boy and ravioli head, pt 2

It seems that I am itching to write essays - and I believe that comes as a result of not being in any classes this school year. But have no worries, today I feel I should break the seriousness with another comic - just for the fun of it.

This particular one is based on a conversation I had, again, with Daniel (Mandolin Boy). We were at the park playing catch with our football - as we used to do so many times throughout the summer - trying to decide what to have for a snack and then I realised it: if I were edible I would probably have eaten myself a long time ago.

I don't expect anybody to understand our humour. I hope you find some enjoyment out of it regardless!




[posted by ericjordan at 0946 hrs]  

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THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2009

chapter two

I am now able to walk.

Well, I can hobble, limp and shuffle at least - but I am no longer bound to swing in between two crutches. Yes!, I am free from the cages of the aluminum legs that kept me so confined - free from the hindrance of metal ape-arms that sometimes made me angry. While I do still have to wear the knee brace, the stops have been removed; the time has now come for me to begin reminding the joint how it feels to be used. And it is starting to remember despite the weakness, soreness and my inability to stand for extended periods of time - additionally, the area where the ligament is located does still hurt when bent too many degrees. Still, if all goes well, in one more week I should be able to throw the knee brace into storage along with the crutches. It is a very exciting time.

The day before my appointment with the physiotherapist found me a tad despondent and decidedly disconnected. The previous several days (which were spent in one spot on the sofa) had been swelling up inside me, suffocating my life-ability and draining me of all my worth. Fortunately, it was only for a day - although this side of me did rear its head on occasion throughout the two weeks - for it was not that great of a time for all those involved (right down to Lyra, the cat, whom, to my shame, was treated with a bit of hostility). I was irritable, angry, helpless and annoyed - frustrated beyond words, pent up in various aspects of my being - and I no longer felt like the person I knew myself to be.

As I lay in bed, quietly staring at the ceiling, I found that somehow I had lost my self, my sense of being. Who I was, I realised, was somehow tied to my mobility. Who I was, for some unknown reason, had become dependent upon my ability to not simply move but move my self. Had my legs actually become such an integral ingredient to my identity? Could I truly not be my self if I could not walk?

Am I defined by my capacity to locomote?

These were slightly perturbing enquiries as I had never once thought of myself in such terms, and therefore they caused me to question who I was - and more nebulously what existence is. What is life and what does it mean? Is life sacrifice and tragedy? Is it happiness and peace? Is life sorrow and joy? Love and injury? Is it letting go and receiving? Is life a growing, a becoming? Is it what we make of ourselves? Is life how we move? What we do?

Is it enough to simply be..?

I had no idea how to answer any of these questions - least of all those of existence - but I did have a vague idea where to begin concerning my identity.

While there are many ideas and concepts of which I am comfortable enough to say I understand, the one most pertinent here is that happiness is based on the temporal, the unstable. That is, our state of being happy is birthed from that which is non-eternal, that which comes and goes, that which is limited - and therefore we swing from highs to lows. Our favourite foods make us happy; our favourite songs make us happy; our favourite books make us happy - but none of these are lasting. Thus, happiness is contingent for it depends on moments or objects that are in passing and eventually transitions into another state of being, such as unhappiness or frustration.1

I was not happy. I was stripped of what seemed to be everything that brought me to that state. Certainly, I did have positive moments - like when my fiancee showed up and we were able to spend time together, or like when my dad would pick me up to take me out for lunch - but then it would be time do something that would remind me of how unable I was, of how imprisoned I was. I was defeated; I was frustrated; I was lost. I kept my mind busy in books, games, and work, but the unhappiness I was feeling blinded me to the pleasures that these things, in other circumstances, would bring. The truth of the situation was that I was stuck in one spot for days, unable to accomplish anything - even the most menial of tasks - by my own power and this utter incapacitation was murderous. I could not do anything - I could not be anything.

I started to wonder whether it was not that I was unable to walk or that I was unable to move my self but perhaps, instead, it was that I quite literally could not do anything and therefore could not assert my being. On some subconscious level, I felt that my cagedness was disallowing me to declare my reality. Sitting there I was silent, barely a blip on the radar; sitting there I could not make a mark on anybody's history; sitting there I was barred from interacting with any world outside the four walls of my house, save for the one of she who was forced to do everything for me.

I had been reduced to nothing - at most a burden.

Or so it was how I felt.

Normally, my first thought upon seeing my reflection is a wonder at how my fiancée - or anyone else - could ever label me attractive. My second thought usually varies, but at the moment, in my post-crutches state, I have been thinking about how I am not merely somebody - not simply anybody - but I am and always have been me. While the consequences of my injury - namely, my immobility - may have removed from me the feeling of humanness, it did not in fact remove from me my humanity. My definition goes beyond two apendages that enable me to move about freely - no matter how masked I was by anger to see that.

Yet, deep within me I feel that what I am is what I do. Said differently, for me to do nothing is to become nothing. For instance, in returning to work I have begun feeling much more 'alive' as a result of being more contributive, not only in bringing home a paycheque but also in helping get something done. This of course is not to say that I don't enjoy relaxing with nothing to do for I have been known to find pleasure in quietness and stillness - but it is something else entirely to be forced into awakened comatose. My problem, however, was not my physical condition - my problem was my spiritual and emotional one. My perspective was too far skewed by my state of unhappiness to see who I was; my anger and frustration had blinded me to the fact that even from the place I sat for two weeks straight I was in reality making a mark.

My meaning is rooted in the fact that there are others insofar as my identity is formed by the absorption of and the interaction with an other - not by my ability to walk. I am a son because my parents had me; I am a brother because my parents had other children; I am a friend because there are guys who welcome me; I am a student because I accept teaching; I am a fiancé because some beautiful girl said Yes.2 I am saved because Yahweh has given His grace. I have all this only because He has given it to me and absolutely none of these things that make up who I am were compromised by my injury. My being is far more than merely legs.

I was being made even while I sat there - and in being made I was making; my history was forged even in my static location. My fiancée sat with me, cared for me, chatted with me - took my mind off things with movies, games, her help and quite simply her presence; my family brought me food, took me out, welcomed me to rest in their home. And so I began to see, to remember how my value is not perpetuated by my own actions but that instead my value is given; that is, my character is formed through experiences and these are gifts, not made by our walking but given to us regardless of our ability - after all, experiences happen even when we are not moving. And through each of these experiences was an interaction where I was not only made further into my role, but I fulfilled the purpose of someone else (i.e., I satisfied my brother's role by being a brother) - and in this exchange made a difference. Indeed, while I lacked the capacity to function at my full physical potential, I still meant something to someone - in fact, I meant something to a lot of people - and this was not self-created but allowed and provided; I did not form my meaning, but instead it was made for me by my being given purpose.

My greatest compliment - or at least one of my greatest compliments - came from a grocery manager I had for three weeks (a grocery manager so abrasive and utterly un-personable that I almost quit) who pulled me aside one day and said, 'You must be a Christian - I can tell by the way you speak, act and compose yourself.' That is who I am - that is how I want to be known, to be seen, to be defined. I am His before I am anything else - even as part of a couple, We are His before We are anything else. God makes us and expects us to live up to whom He has formed of us and I was fulfilling my purpose even while I sat there immobile, even while I sat there frustrated and angry. I was filling my God-given role as fiancé, brother, son and friend because they came to me - because God sent them to me; I was fulfilling my purpose because I was made for it and no injury could stop me from being those things.3 Indeed, I was loving and being loved - and loving only because I have been loved.4 I was seeking Him, learning Him, praising Him - talking with and to Him - even when I could barely make it to the bathroom. I was trusting Him to provide, trusting Him to heal, and trusting Him to hold me. And He has done all these things despite my impatience and lack of vision - and He has done it through the people He has made which in turn He uses to make me.

Hence, quite literally, I am nothing without the Lord for everything I am and have is because He has given it - I only have being because He is the ground of all being.5 It is the passivity that asserts our being; it is the receptivity that declares our reality. I am getting married because He has given me a wife; I am a brother because He has given me siblings; I can eat and have clothes because He gives me a job... I search and He gives; I ask and He answers; I get lost and He finds me; I come to need and He comes to provide; I give up and He gives a way out; I fall and He picks me up; I scream and He listens; I smile and He laughs. There is nothing of which I have been or had that has not come from His hands - not one thing - and my identity is rooted in this, even though I have neglected to acknowledge it for some time. While I regain my mobility, I also, as a result, re-set my footing.

And maybe that's why I was stuck on this couch for two weeks: I needed a reminder. He struck my knee to jar me into remembering who I am. No limb can give or take away my freedom, my salvation - His grace. Who I am is a child of God because He has said so - not because of what I've done, but because of what He has done and no attempt to assert myself will ever grant me merit - I cannot bring about good for it is given to me; I cannot make for myself a life for it is provided for me. I cannot be anything without being made into it. Try as I may, I cannot define myself for my identity belongs in Him, my being is rooted in Him and therefore nothing else can identify me but God. Perhaps this is what it's all about. What we do makes us, but who we are is what we're made into. I am blessed simply because I am - and I am simply because I am His.



1. Joy of course comes from transcending the temporal and holding on through all the ebbs and flows of unpredictability, of existence - through all the waves of life's waters. Joy is not bound by moments in time but is in fact built throughout and between them; joy takes root in the depths of our being and allows us to make it through the hard times to create new good ones. Joy, like true love, is everlasting for it is birthed by that which is eternal, that which is intangible, that which is immutable. Joy is even when we don't feel it - such as in the state of unhappiness.
2. Love, as I have mentioned before, is creative - that is, I am a lover because I am loved.
3. Psalm 16:5
4. 1 John 4:7-12
5. John 1:3; Acts 17:28



[posted by ericjordan at 1343 hrs]  

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SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2009

the strangest time in my life . . .

I realise it may be somewhat arbitrary, while in the midst of it, to declare a period of life the oddest of all. However, I feel as though I am at this time experiencing the proper circumstances to make such a claim. That is, the situation I am currently finding myself in decidedly warrants the predicate of the strangest - if not at least one of the strangest - times in my life.

It begins with Thursday evening just before midnight, when two people - whom I have never met in more than simply a passing - drop by my place to deliver a very special package. This couple is an acquaintance to me through my fiancee, who in turn is friends with the husband's sister. While I have seen them both on campus, whether of high school or university, I have never said more than one word to them, if even that much, until this very moment - and now they are entrusting to me an important four month responsibility of which I would be hesitant in the first days that followed.

Friday, the next day, would hold another fateful evening for me that nobody could have predicted - despite a foreshadowing by not one but two of us I would notice afterward - and yet everyone should be prepared for. It was not long after 8PM when four of us sat in the heated shed at The Forks tying up our skates, readying to take the round trip of the River Trail (we may have seemed uncertain to one another, but each of us knew we were going for the full 9.2km trek). 830PM saw the four of us stepping out onto the ice with one readily adjusting to the feel of it while the other two skated ahead like nothing changed - and I was left behind attempting to steady myself as I struggled to recall the movements of this activity.

I sat with my fiancee in the living room after the couple had left, pondering what had gone wrong and reflecting on my reasons for agreeing to do what I had done - a search for justification. This was not something to take lightly - and this is not something I would normally do. Nobody would believe this was happening - not even, at first, myself. But it was happening - it did happen - and I knew that for a fact - it was a reality - because she kept wandering into the living room where we were seated, exploring and becoming familiar with what would be her home for the next four months. It would take some getting used to - and yet not as much as I had anticipated.

A little over an hour had passed and we were a mere two minutes from the half-way point - the point where we would turn around, after taking a rest, and make the return trip down the ice trail. I had made it this far without falling or veering off the path as I had done a number of times on the last skating venture two years ago (one of which would see me lose my four year old necklace). I had stumbled a few times, yes, and nearly fallen; but it would be here that I would take my tumble.

The next morning I would awake to find that the night before was not a dream. In fact, she would remind me of that, somehow knowing that I was no longer asleep. I lay there as she asked for attention, wondering all the while how I, of all people, ended up with a cat.

I began to stagger and my attempts to re-balance myself were in vain - as I started to fall forward the blade of my left skate would catch in the ice and cause my knee to twist under me in a way that it should not. I felt the sudden painful jerk and spun myself to fall onto my side. I called out to those ahead of me and lay there on my back - it didn't hurt yet, but I could definitely feel something was wrong.

For the rest of the day I would adjust myself to living a life with a new roommate - a roommate of a sort that I never once dreamed of having. Sure, I like dogs and wouldn't mind having a dog (okay, so maybe a very specific dog but I'm not saying her name is Dandy) - but a cat? It's not that I don't like animals for I do love birds and have had budgies as pets before in my life - but a cat? I never found a cat as a pet appealing in the least; cats are too independent, too head-strong - unmalleable and moody. And here I was with one of them. It would be easy with a dog - you can train them and teach them and play with them - or a bird - they have no choice but to take what you give them - but a cat does what it wants and seeks your attention when it is convenient for them, with complete disregard for what you may be doing. A dog can become attached to you and remain loyal - a cat will be your 'friend' for as long you feed it and keep it happy when it wants you to provide contentment and entertainment. What good are cats? Why would anybody want one? Why do I have one?

The other three skated back to me, unsure of what had happened. I lay there on my back, laughing, and told them I had twisted my knee. Chris asked if I needed help up - I told him I wanted to wait a second. I sat up and started feeling a bit light-headed, a little like I was about to faint. I was given water and waited until I was ready to stand - Chris offered his hand and helped me upright. My knee felt okay, if a little more loose than it should be. We would make it to the half-way point, rest at the tables for a few minutes and then begin our trek back toward The Forks. Skating was fine - albeit my knee bubbled, popped, and shifted strangely in its place - and I made it back to the heated shed with little to no pain at all. Then it started - I could barely get my shoe on; walking up and back to the car was really more of a limping. And the limping would continue for the entire weekend until I finally gave in and went to a doctor Monday morning.

It took me a day or two but I finally found myself able to call the cat by name - Lyra - as opposed to it or she. It was around this time it became clear to me that I was, dare I say, growing fond of her. Our relationship was transitioning so that it was, at least to me, more than merely 'guardian and captive' but instead was 'master and pet' - in the sense that we sort of like each other. Of course, her fondness may stem from the fact that I actually am her guardian, but she does indeed show some signs of affection. It moves me to reflect on the creative power of love - that is, when love is given it creates a special bond in the process of a becoming where the one loved becomes - is created to be - the beloved. So by loving, the lover shapes another into more than merely an acquaintance - more than simply an other - but in fact makes them into someone loved, someone known - and thereby makes them into someone who is able to give love. This process of course leaves both parties for ever changed not only if it is requited - for even in unanswered love there is creation of a relationship, albeit of a different sort, but a relation is made nonetheless. It is in this sense that Lyra, the cat, has slowly won me over. This is not to say however that I, who have always been indifferent and oft-times hostile toward felines, have now become a 'cat person,' but it is to say that I do in fact like this particular cat. Thus, it goes to show that I can't judge a creature until I get to know them - a few negative experiences cannot preclude any potential positive ones - since there are always exceptions and one or two or even three cats cannot be the standard by which to hold all cats. Hence, it is not that I have been converted, for I still will be indifferent and perhaps oft-times hostile (although likely now a little less so) toward a cat, but it certainly is far different once the cat has become my cat. And so indeed Lyra, the cat - this cat - has slowly won me over.

After waiting all morning (well, three hours) to see the doctor, I was told that I have sprained my medial collateral ligament - and possibly have caused a minor tear. After X-RAYS in awkward and sometimes painful positions - and in an embarrassing manner of having to pull my pants down in front of the nurse - any potential bone damage was ruled out. And so I was fitted for and shown how to use my knew companions - a knee brace and crutches. Life with these has been quite a task. I know that I should be glad it was not anything worse - still I have been finding it frustrating to adjust. I am no longer able to put on mine own shoes (and mine own socks if I want to avoid anger); I am no longer able to help around the house - or carry anything for that matter; I am no longer able to 'walk' for more than a few minutes without experiencing pain; I am no longer able to comfortably go to the bathroom; I am no longer able to playfully chase my fiancee - or even hold her hand when moving; I am no longer able to work; I am no longer able to drive. Indeed, it seems that I have been confined to the passenger seat not only in the car but also in life. It is not that I do not mind sitting around and doing nothing - reading, or snuggling, or watching movies, or chatting - but to be forcibly confined is upsetting, especially when to exist comfortably means having my leg up with a pillow underneath my knee. It feels like I can do virtually nothing and have been experiencing more feelings of uselessness, helplessness and frustration than anything else. It has been difficult to be waited upon as I very much like to do things for myself and also for others but can do neither of these. All I can do is sit and wait for healing. Hence, I have found this injury to be a lesson in humility, patience and dependence.

It seems to be only the peculiar things that happen to me - chronic headaches, heart gurgles, skin infection, passing out for no reason (twice) and now a sprained MCL - not to mention having a pet of which I'd normally loathe... It makes me wonder what could possibly be next. With my very own wedding coming up in a mere four months, I can't help but think of how this has got to be some of the strangest things to ever happen to me. I am stuck hobbling around at home without work, unable to do anything for myself, bent over wedding and various other worries - and with a cat always on my trail. What odd circumstances. Yet I cannot shake the feeling that it could not be any different or even any better than how it is right now. God is good. And really that's all there is to it.


[posted by ericjordan at 1201 hrs]  

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SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2009

wordy wisdom: inspirational lyrics

The part of a song I feel the majority - not all but a lot - of people overlook is the lyrics. To me they are a crucial part of any song and are one of the first things I look at or listen to. In fact, upon purchasing a new CD, I sit to listen through it while reading along with the words and if I start to like a song on the radio, I look up the lyrics on the internet. Poetry is beautiful expression - and good poetry can invoke emotional responses. I feel that music - good music - is indeed poetry to a melody and I have been touched and inspired by many words written to music.

That said, I would like to share some of these lyrics which I would go so far as to label my favourite. The first of which I have declared my theme song and did so upon the first listen I had back in 1996 when I bought the CD. It is from the album which is arguably Audio Adrenaline's best, bloOm. The song is called Man of God and I feel as though it were written as the story of my life - even still I can relate.

Man of God / Audio Adrenaline // bloOm,1996

sometimes i'm a liar,
sometimes i'm a fake;
sometimes i'm a hypocrite
that everybody hates.
sometimes i'm a poet,
sometimes i'm a preacher;
sometimes i watch life go by
sitting on the bleachers.

but i've never been left alone
in any problem that i've known -
even though i'm to blame.
there were times when things were dark
and i've been known to miss the mark,
but someone fixed my aim.

sometimes i'm a man of God -
sometimes i'm alright.
sometimes i lay down and close my eyes
and pray to God.

sometimes i don't feel good,
it's hard to start the day,
it's hard to climb the obstacles
that sometimes come my way.
if i make it, i'm a good man -
am i a bad man if i fail?
i know i'm never good enough
so i let grace prevail.

no, i've never been left alone
in any problem that i've known -
even though i'm to blame.
there were times when things were dark
and i've been known to miss the mark,
but someone fixed my aim.

sometimes i'm a man of God -
sometimes i'm alright.
sometimes i lay down and close my eyes
and pray to God,
'i'm ready for the night.'

right now i'm alright.
right now i'm alright.
sometimes i'm alright.
i'm alright.
i'm alright.
thank God -
thank God!

and sometimes i'm a man of God -
and sometimes i'm alright.
yah, and sometimes i lay down and close my eyes
and pray to God.
and sometimes i'm a man of God -
and sometimes i'm alright.
yah, and sometimes i lay down and close my eyes
and pray to God,
'i'm ready for the night.'


[posted by ericjordan at 0955 hrs]  

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