This may not make sense. It's jumbled. But sometimes you just need to write. Or blog. And so you do.
I love when stories just flow out of me. When I don't have to wrack my brain and consider this and that, and wonder about the other, and then go back and make sure that everything is plausible, or realistic, or coming across the way that I want. When I just sit down, and the words just pour forth, like a cup running over.
That's been happening to me recently on some pieces I'm working on and I'm quite pleased. Interestingly, and maybe not by chance, these pieces are ones I've been doing by hand. I wrote 1600 words, and then another 1200, and then a third set I've yet to transcribe into type. But it's the old writing - the way writing used to be for me. The joy is there, and that's so, so important to me. I can't boil it down into a sure-fire recipe, but I know enough to know when I can put my thumb on it; and this is working. I hate how sloppy and unreadable my handwriting is, and I can type so much faster than I can scrawl. As well, whenever I want to go back and fix something, or add and change, it ends up being scribbles and arrows and asterisks all over the page, and it's a mess. Typing is neater, tidier, there's less residue. But it also effaces some of the process of creation, and maybe that's what I've been needing to get back to. And I am now.
Last night as I lay in the bed I'm borrowing listening to S read the story of a magical bunny to her two young daughters, I stared at the World Map that takes up the entire wall of this bedroom. And I marveled. At the tiny white dot the size of a pinhead that says "Cork" next to it, on an island the size of fingernail, called Ireland. And how TINY that island is. Look at the UK, or Europe, or North America... or the world in its entirety... and I just balk. It's just soooo big. How could I not help but feel small? Is there any other way to even consider myself?
I remember when the plane landed at Cork Airport and was pulling up to the gate. A wave of excitement hit me, that felt exactly the same as what I was taught as a child to understand the Spirit to be. I may not be a particularly Orthodox-Mormon anymore, but I know spirituality and the importance of its remembrance and cultivation. And I think that's what travel is for me.
This, out here, the world, seeing one tiny speck of it - take Zanzibar, for instance. I spent five days there and it's smaller on the map than the speck that marks Cork. And I marvel. I am so small. Wanderlust, which I joked of having, is now a understanding with myself. I feel pulled to go and see all the places I have not, but how could I possibly? How will there ever be enough time? Enough money? I want to see everything. How?
Exploring Cork today, I felt the same way: small. Especially when I climbed up St. Anne's church and stood next to the bells at the top, and then ducked around them to go into the stairwell carved barely wide enough for me to fit and went out onto the roof. All of Cork lay before me, and I just stood there and marveled.
This world is absolutely amazing, it's almost beyond comprehension. And being here with this family who don't know me form Adam, who love and care for their daughters, who are just doing their best to survive... I feel the connection. That invisible, all-important thread that binds us together in this common struggle; we're all just doing the best we can to get by. One day to the next. I want to find a way to tap into that energy, to build our creativity, to unite us with one purpose... one without, division, prejudice, or malice. Just people.
Where I'm staying, once a year, they have a "Spring Clean" where everyone turns out from their houses to help clean up the neighborhood. They start in their own yards, and then go door-to-door helping for those who are away or still at work until it reaches a critical mass. Of people. Working together. To own, and appreciate, and honor their space. This sense of community was incredible, and unlike anything I'd ever experienced as a child in America.
Bedtime stories, world maps, small airports, city centres seen from towers, and people working together: these are my religion. They are my heart and soul and I find peace in them.
Psalm 46 - God is our refuge and our strength - He dwells in his city, does marvelous things, and says, Be still and know that I am God.
In all this, I am still.
I see, I hear, I feel.
These words have flowed out of me, without planning, thought, or worry like the best of stories that come to me.
More than anything, in being still, I give thanks.
For these moments, these experiences, these people, this marveling, everything.
I got up this morning and knew that today, for the first time in about a month, I was going to work. I was going to write. And that it wasn't an April Fool's joke.
And the absolute, most infuriating thing about that is that I cannot tell you why or how today is different from yesterday. It's actually mind-boggling. If I had an inkling, then I would know for next time. I would get there faster, I would break down less, I would not waste as much energy and effort getting absolutely nothing accomplished.
And part of it may just be waiting. Everything should be balanced. Play is just as important as work. If you push and push and push to work, then you will fail. Some people have developed an ability to dig deep and "push through," but I think those people are white-knuckling and they are gonna break down. When I broke down, I just embraced it. I struggled, sure, and I said, I don't like this and I want this go away and I want to get things down and have the desire to work and love this again and twelve million other things. But I stopped fighting. I quit. Throwback to #nofilter. Seven months later. Oh hey, history, kind of you to repeat yourself. Not. And then I watched so many hours of television I can't even count them all. And when that didn't keep me entertained, I gamed.
And I'm sure there are people that would argue that I was just running away from my problems, that I was simply procrastinating, but I've been around the block enough to know that there was something else there. Sure, on the surface that can be the answer, and you can chock yourself up to understanding me and move on. I'm not saying your argument is false. I'm just saying it's more complicated than that. Something deeper. Something unsettling enough to paralyze me completely. Make me question myself to the core. An out-of-the-blue impactful thought that gave me pause today: if it's about achieving balance, and part of that definitely involves play, then what's to say my current overcompensation (literally the only thing I want to do) isn't just trying to balance out an earlier deficit from childhood I'm not even consciously aware of? Where my space for play and imaginative discourse were stifled? Who knows if/how being sooooooooooo closeted/repressed for so long is still affecting me?
I just knew it was bad. Unsettling, as I said. I went so far as to get my blood tested. Something must be wrong. But the tests all came back negative. What then? Why did I break down to the point I was missing deadlines? That the things I enjoyed just made me angry and frustrated? Why do I stop believing in myself? Why do I question, and doubt, and reconsider everything - and I mean, literally, everything - like to the point where I am ready to give up on ever writing another word and change careers, chucking my 1.85 degrees in the garbage along with all my incomplete, imperfect work?
I lost my confidence in everything. Not just writing. I felt completely shattered. I'm not over that. I'm not healed. I'm not fixed. I'm not just flipping a switch and now I'm going to just pick up where I left off like nothing happened.
Lying to myself is one of the most pernicious things I can do. And not a way to believe in myself again. I don't know how to get back to where I was. I may not for a long time. I'm trying to accept that. Which isn't easy. But sifting my imperfections and my failings has the ashes of the answers. I know that much.
Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light (6)C'mere darkness. Let's have a cuddle.
We're told social media is too happy, too idealistic, too sterilized from real life. We share triumphs, victories, achievements, celebrate and congratulate, but are we ever honest?
What about when it's hard? When it's too much? When you would do anything to get out the place where you are? Why doesn't that ever show up? Are we too afraid of appearing weak? Vulnerable? Of fishing for compliments? Support? Be brave. Courageous. How many of your virtual friends would you feel comfortable calling up when you're complete wreck, knowing that they'd stop what they're doing and rush to your aide? Two?
Depression is so hard to understand: Its causes, its symptoms, its lingering, its suffocation, its intricate interactions and interconnections with other disorders and mental health states.
Pick yourself up. Start again. Step by step. Just do a little. I want to scream.
The moments where nothing's okay and everything seems wrong and the task ahead is insurmountable. Not seems, is.
Right now I'm frustrated out of my mind. I've tried every avenue I can think of (that could be its own post - the amount of work I've put into different options and ways of moving past is absurd), including going back on medication for ADHD. And it's just. not. working. I'm just stuck. On Tuesday I was super productive and I worked for hours. Yesterday, I sat in the exact same place and did absolutely NOTHING. What changed? How was it different one day to the next? I literally want to stand up and shake myself and scream JUST WRITE. OPEN THE $#%& DOCUMENT AND JUST. WRITE.
I know that if I had that best friend, someone, anyone, stood here doing that exact thing it would just make me shrink even further into this pit of despair. So how do I win? How I get up? All it takes is one click, right? So what's stopping me? That space, that chasm, that vastness is mind-blowing and mind-numbing all in one. Fascinating and frightening. Not somewhere I want to be. Ever. And yet, somehow I do, because it's here that I could tease out reason and function, understanding, comprehension... then maybe I could defeat it easier in the future. I could just say 'pfft' and click.
When someone reaches out to support me, when the lifeline is there, I don't answer the call, I close the chat box. For years, I wailed about being so alone, about not having these people, and now they are here. So why don't I use them when they want only to help? Why do I persist in separation? How does that HELP? Something keeps me from taking that step, holds me back, pins me down, and that's the thing I don't understand.
I want to. But how do you begin taking apart and exploring something nebulous you don't even have a name for? How do you reach into that space and pluck something worth looking at? Science? Mysticism? Philosophy? Does ANY of that, this, even matter if I can't reach my stupid deadline?
We cry. We break. We fall. Then somewhere down the line we use powers and strengths we don't understand and can't name to get past and never talk about it again because it's been beaten, it's been vanquished. Overcome. Don't look back, look forward. Move on. Heal. Forgive and forget.
I don't like that.
Can we stop being perfect models and cookie-cutter images of pure joy, success, and happiness and start being a bit more real? I think that's a good place to start. Today is a down day for me. I'm having a rough go. I'm crying. I'm anxious, I'm worried. I'm stressed. More importantly, I want to SHARE that. I want to be seen: weak, fallible, that I'm not just happy, go-lucky, 24/7. I'm human. And to be human is to err, is it not?
Maybe take a minute and walk out of the department store display and come sit with me for a while on the curb, or in the dirt, and we can be weak and unhappy together. Human. I need a hospital right now, not a hotel. I don't want to hide my problems, I want to heal them. And if in doing so, I can help with yours too, even a fraction; I'd relish the company.
Let us be "willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and [be] willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things" (Mosiah 18:8-9)
I wasn't sure where to put this, so it's going here. Since I cut my hair and have been trying to slowly work my way back into the Ultimate world, I've decided I need to be more serious about some things. I want to be more dedicated. I want to try harder. I want to give more.
So in light of that I wrote up some daily goals today. Writing them down is the first step to doing them. Then I did them. They are lofty, and ambitious, and I'm sure that I will fail. Many times. But failure is part of the process of building success. You don't just throw a victory banner up and celebrate because you're already done. That would involve zero effort and zero growth. Next, I will keep them. Because change isn't about one day. It's about the long run, the habit, the permanent difference. It's time to get into a routine. And then stick it, over and over and over.
No, it's not January. And tomorrow isn't even July yet (but we're close). But here's to a new me. And a new chapter. And new goals.
-Physio Exercise Regimen (3 sets of 3x30 exercises, 3 times daily)
-Read at least 100 pages (or 2 hours)
-Write at least 5000 words (or 4 hours)
-Pushups (start with as many as possible, +10 daily)
-Crunches/situps (start with as many as possible, +10 daily)
Ready, set, achieve.
Journal Entry dated July 16, 1995*
Hi again, it's just another boring day in the life of David. So from now on we'll do stories to make things better. Well here goes nothing.
I'm Patrick and it's 11:00PM at night. I'm very tired but I can't sleep because my little brother won't stop sucking his thumb. I hate that SSUUCCKKing noise. Ah, finally he stopped now maybe I can get some sleep... zzzz, zzzzz.
Next Morning (A few hours later).
Hey! Pat get uupp! It's already 5:00AM. What!, I yelled as I sat up, only 5:00AM, Uh, Uh, I'm not getting up until 8:00 I said drearily as my once again shut. But, Pat we have to do paper }KLUNK! THUD were the last two things I heard before everything went black.
TO BE CONTINUED...
*Original punctuation and formatting preserved.
I was clearly meant to be a writer, right? Laughing so hard at myself right now. #TBT
First off - If you haven't read Ender's Game, do so. Second, after doing so, go see the movie. If you've done neither of those, probably don't read this.
Me writing about Ender is nothing new per se, but in some ways it is, so here we go again. Ender. Ender's Game. If you've forgotten the past, feel free to refresh yourself. This and this are my most important writings to date on Ender.
Ender and I have been an experience and journey like no other. Years we've been on this road, and now the movie adds a new layer to that. I -against all trepidations about doing so- went and saw it. I will note here (this could easily spiral out of control into its own rant-y diatribe, so I will not let it) my extreme dislike of Card as a person for his personal agenda/beliefs. His homophobia is rampant and very problematic. However, I must say that Ender is still one of the characters that hits closest to home for me -deeply, wholly, on ALL levels of who I am- and so I cannot discount that. He and his experience are incredibly sacred and valuable to me, even if his creator is less-than-ideal in my eyes. I finally figured out WHY Ender is so important to me, and why I feel so strongly about/for him. It's because I relate to him on a deeper level than anything I have ever experience with another human being. I may never relate this completely to anyone in real life. But with Ender I do. Asher Lev is the same way. The bond goes beyond the surface and takes it to something visceral, something I feel with every iota.
That said, this is about the movie adaptation of Ender's Game. The next piece of my journey with Ender. As stated, I was very nervous to see this. I have been less-than-impressed with quite a few book-to-movie adaptations in recent months. Most notably Hunger Games whose rant I don't ever seem to have finished (though I could have sworn I did...)
But the movie was not the let-down I was praying it would not be. Phew. Indeed, it plummeted me back to the same space that made me so agitated I had to pen my thoughts on the vomit bag in an airplane because I had nothing else, and it needed out of me. Tonight I was to attend the farewell party of a friend moving to Ghana. I stopped by and said hello, and then exited myself to the side politely. I told a few people what was up. I am in that space. Ender does this me. Whether Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow or, now, the movie - I am driven by something in my soul to put words on paper and make sense of these thoughts and emotions swirling inside me, pulling and pushing in so many different directions.
I liked the movie way more than I was expecting to, which I was glad for. I must say, up front, that had I not read the book my experience and understanding of the movie would have been totally different. I touched on this sort of bias/expectations previously in my post on Ender's Game the book. Without book knowledge, much of the movie would have been confusing, or dare I say shallow. Hollywood uses sweeping brush strokes that gloss over the nuances and depths that make books the better half. skipped SO SO SO much in the movie. Like Peter, for example. He was in the movie 1 scene. Maybe a minute of screen time. But he's such a pivotal part of who Ender is and how he got that way. Same with Valentine, though she appeared a little more. The book greatly enhanced my viewing experience because I had the background, I had the knowledge that related to these characters and who they were that wasn't going to make the movie's final cut. I have to say one of my biggest complaints about the movie was the fabricated love story between Petra and Ender. She's the one girl in battle school with a name, and let's have her head-over-heels in love for Ender in the movie. That's not how I remember the book. Kind of lame. I also didn't like the portrayal of Bean, which I feel is a pivotal, crucial, role... but that bothered me less than The Petra thing.
The movie did alot of things right. I feel like the movie in many aspects enhanced my experience of the book, and I was glad for that. Asa Butterfield was 100% the correct pick for Ender. Graff and Anderson were well cast also. The movie was almost 2 hours, but I think they did okay; especially if you come to the table with the book behind you. They missed A LOT, but I don't think 3 movies like the current Hobbit debacle would have been appropriate either. Asa did great as Ender and I felt for him many times. I cried in the movie, like I was hoping I would. That means they got it right. They connected to me in the right places, the right way. But I feel like they failed to convey the sense of aloneness and isolation that made Ender. Of just how incredibly stacked everything was against him, and how he would not be broken, even when he was completely, utterly, alone. So alone. I had that from the book though and mapped it onto the events on the screen, and it ended up okay. That's part of why the whole Petra thing was so annoying to me. The book made it clear that though he gained respect, Ender never really gained friends. That was a luxury he couldn't afford, and Graff made sure of it. I did find myself wishing that the book were a little fresher in my mind, but I was worried because I knew the movie is on its way out of theaters, and if I was going to see it, I needed it to be on the big screen. So it had to happen now. I just didn't have the time to revisit the book.
But the main message got across. I was absolutely bawling, yet acutely aware of my skewed viewing experience as Ender took his "graduation exam." With the book as my foundation, I was omniscient where he was not. I knew what was happening, even when he did not. The lives being lost, the ships being abandoned, I was crying, crying, crying. And then the moment came where he would be broken, and I sobbed along with him. "I just killed an entire species." The crushing, crushing weight of that genocide. They made you, Ender. They built you, and you fought, and you tried the best that you could with the knowledge you had been given. You won their war. At great, great cost. I actually really liked the ending of the movie. I remember the book ending with the Formic War, not him finding the queen, and vowing to find them a new home, but maybe that was in the book too. I really liked how it was executed in the movie.
It's so interesting to me how I have changed and grown and am in such a different place than I was when I wrote my previous Ender thoughts. Yet, deep down, I still resonate on such a level with Ender. I connect with him in a way that I cannot explain. Him and Asher Lev. I am not the broken, hopeless, totally alone, peaceless youth I once was. I have ended the largest, worst, most pervasive battle for peace I have ever fought. The one inside me, with my warring halves. I have reached the place where Asher Lev is free. I am there. But I remember. And I can still feel the past, even if it doesn't define me anymore.
I remember the pain, the loneliness, the fear, the empty. I have not forgotten and I will not. And thus I still feel Ender. Not just for him, but him. I feel Ender. I feel Asher. And this is part of what drives me to know that I am on the right track. I must write. I must create. I must share. This kind of human-ness on the page is so real, it's terrifying. I must try and do the same. I've talked about that before in my previous Ender posts. It's so real, it hurts. The movie got that. That's why I cried. Shaking, crying. I am looking in the mirror, and it hurts. He hurts. I hurt. We hurt. And yet still, even after all that... After 10,000 deaths Ender presses on. His humanity is played out perfectly in the movie. Graff curses him as Ender questions what they were waiting for, saying what you were going to do, start a dialog? Ender has stopped all future battles, but in doing so, has revealed humanity's own ugly nature. The nature that is instinctual in him, but that he is trying to distance himself from. The violence. Peter. I omitted some lines from my initial write-up from the throw-up bag. I don't know why now I chose to do so at the time. I wasn't hiding anything. I went back to the bag (of course I still have it) and revisited those cut lines and found one I regret not having included the first time:
Ender captures the notion [of decency], but there is no indication he ever achieves it. "I don't want to beat Peter." "Then what do you want?" "I want him to love me." All I want is for people to love me. So why does Ender play so perfectly to me? Because he is so human? Yet where is his redemption? The knowledge that he can bring back what he unwittingly obliterated?
An interesting emphasis on love that I previously omitted. This now coupled with the emphasis the movie gave from its very first seconds with the opening quote:
“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him.” – A.E. Wiggin
I want to be loved so deeply that I am totally and wholly vulnerable to the point of someone being able to absolutely and completely destroy me. And yet, they do not or will not - for love overcomes the need to destroy. That is where true victory is achieved. This is what Ender boils down to for me when you strip everything away and leave only that single element. That level of love and understanding is something I have achieved with Ender and Asher. In reality, I love and I give of myself to gain that power over people. Some I regrettably have destroyed or attacked in moments of anger, rage, or discomfort. But others I cherish and protect and would give my life for in an instant. This force drives me at my core, surrounded by the loneliness of my past.
Ender's isolation and manipulation are severely undercut in the movie, and much of battle school is left out. I would have loved to have seen way more of the Battle Room. Not to mention the moral complexities that arise when using children to engage in war. That's barely even touched on at all. Also downplayed is what is intended in the book to be rife food-for-thought on the dynamics of empathy and vulnerability, and instead the movie offers us only the line I already mentioned where Ender confronts Graff, denouncing the "ends justify the means" methodology just used to win a war and commit genocide. Ender is now tasked with the stark reality that he has just annihilated an entire species of sentient beings -not to mention the lives he unknowingly sacrificed when he abandoned the majority of the fleet- who had just as much right to life as humans do.
I think though that when you consider how internal and inside-Ender-driven the plot is of the original book, many good things have come from this movie adaptation. It is worthy of its place, and I accept it as a fitting supplemental experience to my enjoyment of the book. I would not replace it, and I sure as hell hope this movie is not the attempted beginning of a franchise, but on its own, Ender's Game the movie is not as bad as I expected, and thus I came away pleasantly pleased.
It definitely dredged up all the questions I'd mulled on previously, and took me back to the place of balancing empathy and vulnerability without costing humanity, even if the movie did not explicitly do so. It was fulfilling to watch, and I appreciated being able to revisit the world of Ender, even if for me it comes addled with so much alienation and loneliness. But this, I think, in many ways allows Ender to be even more of a redemptive character, especially with the way the movie ending was framed. I appreciate Ender in new ways from my new point in life and perspective and am glad for him to have been such an impactful, insightful part of my journey toward better understanding myself, the human condition, and this crazy construct we call love.
In the end my desire, and Ender's, remain the same. No matter the bruises, bumps, or attacks, we seek only love. Even when the cost of giving that love is at great expense to ourselves, we will give. And give freely.
To recap, the movie is well done for the most part. If you accept it as a supplemental experience enhancing your view and understanding of the book, then it is well worth your time and money. So read the book. Then see the movie. And love. Love fiercely and wholly, even when everything is stacked against you or you feel alone beyond all reason.