Wednesday, 8 August 2012

How Far Away The Stars

How far away the stars seem, and how far is our first kiss, and ah, how old my heart. 
                                                                                                                  - William Butler Yeats

I am not a night owl.

In fact, I am most certainly a morning person. Usually. We all have our days, when we don't want to get up. I have those. But generally, I love rising with the sun, hearing the birds sing.

Early bird
Oh, if you're a bird, be an early bird
And catch the worm for your breakfast plate.

If you're a bird, be an early bird--

But if you're a worm, sleep late.

-- Shel Silverstein

I may be an early bird and not a night owl, but I still love the night. One of my favorite things is to be outside at night, in the summer. Where I live, that means it's cool. You will need a sweater. The air is no longer as humid and heavy as it was during the day and the air is fresh and cool. It makes you feel alive, like there are so many reasons to live.

Earlier in the month, I wrote this in my journal:

Everyone loves a nice starry night. But, personally, I almost prefer a nice cloudy night. You know the nights. No stars in the sky, but so many clouds that the lights of our world are reflected back at us so that it never really gets all that dark. It makes me feel enclosed and safe, as if the great big world we live in is really just a little world at heart. Tonight was the best evening I've had in a very long time. [A friend] and I drove to the beach and walked along the sand, barefoot, in the dark. It was amazing. So, so, so cold with the water splashing up to our knees, but amazing. Of course, the thought of being approached by some creepy potential murderer was always in the back of our minds.

Driving back from the beach was fantastic. I rolled down the back windows, pushed my seat back as far as it could go and looked up at the moon and the cloudy sky, talking to [my friend] and listening to the Temper Trap. I love the Temper Trap. It was perfect. I was so, so, so happy. I was content.

In my opinion, there are two kinds of happy. I label them "ecstatic" and "content". Ecstatic would be when you're at the concert of your favorite band or you've just won the gold medal. It's a big deal and you're really, really happy about it. Content is a lot more simple. Usually, nothing big is happening. You're not doing anything extra-special and yet you could not possibly imagine another place and time where you would rather be. I prefer to be content I think.

Nighttime makes me content.

As I've just stated, I love those cloudy nights where there's not a star to be seen, but I also love the starry ones. A few weeks ago, my boyfriend (friend at the time) and I were lying by a campfire looking at the stars. I said "I wish I knew more about constellations so that I could pick them out." He said "Let's just make up our own!" And so we did. We spent the night talking, laughing, making up constellations. I was content. There's something so simple, so instinctual about lying in the grass, by the fire, staring up at the sky. It reminds me that I am, always have been and always will be an important piece of this world, equal to every other piece, no matter how big or how small I may feel. It's like picking out the fire-breathing-dragons and princes and princesses in far away castles as you look up at the clouds as a child. I love camping for the same reason, it makes me feel like a kid again.

Sometimes, we get so caught up in ourselves and our lives and the people around us that we forget that we are the same people as we were when we were five years old. (I could make the argument that we're not - but I'll save that for another blog.) We forget that people lived wonderful, fulfilled, happy lives long before TV, long before iPhones and iPads, long before the internet. All I need to be happy, to be truly, genuinely happy is nature, maybe some music, and someone I love.

I digress a lot in this blog, don't I?

I started out talking about the night, and now I'm talking about happiness. I guess in many ways the two can go hand in hand. It's possible to see the night as scary, as dangerous, as, well, bad. In fact, that's generally how it's portrayed. I, however, prefer to see it as calm, serene, whole. Yes, that's a good word, whole. The night, for me, despite my early bird status, can be described as whole because it envelops me. It holds in its palm all of the good, all of the bad, all of the ugly that our big fancy world has to offer. It's when the lights go down (in the middle of the night I mean, not like 8 pm) and we can see everything as it is. We aren't dazzled by the lights, but we can see that they are there. We see the shadows, but if we really try we can see through them. We are able to at once view what we imagine, the falsehoods that drape over the truths around us like veils, and the secrets underneath. 

Here are TWO final songs, for your inspiration. ;)

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Consistently Misimagined

“It is easy to forget how full the world is of people, full to bursting, and each of them imaginable and consistently misimagined.” 
― John GreenPaper Towns

Are people ever what they seem?

I recently read John Green's 2008 novel, Paper Towns. Don't know who John Green is? Get off of this page and google him. Right now. Go on, I mean it. Or, go here, to the YouTube channel he share's with his brother, Hank. I have unfortunately not watched many of the videos as of yet, but when I purchased my copy of Paper Towns, I found a mysterious note in it sending me there. Later, my boyfriend, who had insisted I read the book, also sent me there. So go there.

If you are still here, I'm making the assumption that you've 1. previously read Paper Towns or have gone, read it and returned and 2. understand the allusion I am making here.

On to my point.

Paper Towns got me thinking about how we view people, how we label people. Hard as we may try, and believe me I do, we all make snap judgments about people. Recently I have had the opportunity to meet many, many people, many of whom I made a snap judgement about that was completely, utterly, incomprehensibly wrong. So why do we make them?

Also, I know this is a bit jumpy, so bear with me.

Why is it that our society feels the need to categorize people? I was watching the movie Mean Girls one day, and in the movie they categorize each of the tables in the cafeteria, there's the jocks, the nerds, the popular kids, ect. I remember thinking, nobody does that in real life! It doesn't work like that! But then, I went to school the next day and I looked around. In my cafeteria we had the card players (two sets actually, card playing is HUGE at my school), the football players, the "popular" kids, the wannabe popular kids, the IB kids (this is my category!), the frizzy-haired-we-spend-all-of-our-time-reading-in-the-library-and-we-make-up-the-entire-school-book-club girls. Whether or not these categories naturally exist, we feel the need to label them.

But think about it, those labels could be changed. If I moved the kids around to new tables, I could create new categories, it could be, perhaps, the single parent family kids, the vegetarian kids, the I-say-I-hate-Justin-Bieber-because-I-want-to-seem-"cool"-but-nobody's-allowed-in-my-room-because-it's-secretly-covered-from-head-to-toe-with-the-largest-collection-of-Bieberbelia-outside-of-Oslo kids. If these groups are so easily rearranged, do they really mean anything at all?

There's a quote written on the wall in my school cafeteria that says "Labels are for cans, not people." I agree. I WISH labels could only be for cans, but if I'm being honest with myself, and you, I'm not sure that's possible. I feel like our brains must categorize people for a reason. Perhaps it's how we keep people straight, helping us to remember them and keep them separate from other people. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't think the labels will ever go away. That's okay, we can work with that. What I think SHOULD happen is that people need to make an effort to realize that there is more than one kind of tomato soup. They all say "Tomato Soup", but one could be chunky tomato soup, one smooth, one might have noodles, who knows, one might even be gazpacho. Maybe, instead of saying "I hate tomato soup," we should go through and make sure we REALLY hate every single darn type of tomato soup out there before we make that judgement, after all, that judgement is what causes stereotypes.

Here's a final song, for your inspiration. ;)