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Filters

3 Apr

Swearing is becoming quite popular in our house. While this is nothing new for Sarah and Stephanie, it’s surprising now that Mary’s favorite expletive is no longer “Oh brother!” I do miss her old phrase, but there is something satisfying about tucking her into bed, her neck cracking as she lies down, and having her tell it like it is. When the world has handed her such a burden in life, a bit of profanity only seems appropriate. Of course, once settled into bed, she’ll talk of those who are suffering worse than she. Is that enough guilt for you, world?

Although we lose clean water and social approval, it can be gratifying when a filter goes out. Despite an ability to wakeup with the impression that each day is a new opportunity, a new beginning, there is something to be said for the weeks, months, and years that are slowly piling behind the filters of our histories. We try to ignore the backup, try to remain pleasant despite conflicting orders from our emotions and impending breakdown. This is why we go to movies and watch reality shows, waiting for someone else’s filter to break so ours don’t have to. Aristotle defined it as catharsis, an opportunity to reflect on the characters’ emotional breakdowns on stage so that we won’t have to go home and have them ourselves.

In this house, however, we are the ones putting on the show. Now, I am not asking for a game of dodge ball with the dinner glasses, but it’s possible that a little swearing is just what this house needed.  It is a reminder that maybe we should look underneath a fountain from time to time, take note of all the dirt it has collected over the years in order to spurt out clear water on the other side. Maybe Connor’s tantrums and Mary’s expletives are a bit of spring cleaning. Maybe I can chuckle every time Sarah passes my door with a string of expletives in toe. But then again, at five in the morning, maybe not.

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Windows

27 Mar

The moon was huge the other night. It was one of those moons that is scary in its beauty, its awesomeness a sure sign that it had fallen off its normal path in space and was headed straight towards Earth. Matt and I sat at the dinner table, silent and staring, me being sure that within the hour the moon would take down the mountains and palm trees and crash into the big picture window in front of us. None of the other core members or assistants seemed to be aware of the risk we were facing. They weren’t lucky enough to have the seats with the view.

As we ate our soup and salad, it seemed absurd to me that the moon could be seen by anyone else on the planet. The perfection of its positioning in front of our window made me sure that the moon was putting on a show just for us, a private screening in honor of something good we must have done that day. It was similar to the way you can stumble upon waterfalls in rivers and clearings in forests and feel pride in believing you were the first to have discovered nature. Although you know this couldn’t possibly be true, you feel all the more happy in knowing that others have shared in this secret of the Earth as well. I wonder if anyone else stumbled upon the moon that night, eating dinner, looking out the window, claiming individuality in the shared experience.

There is something unifying about the moon. Besides the sun, it is the only thing we can be sure reaches every person’s view every single day. No matter the differences we find around the world in politics, attitudes, sentiments, or values, the moon offers itself as a common landscape. It defies borders and oceans, unconcerned about the wars and hostility and lines we draw across our bedroom floors and hearts. It ignores time zones and schedules, my mom assuring me during stays away from home that, no matter the distance between us, we would always be looking at the same moon. And as long as the next harvest moon doesn’t succeed in making its way into my dining room, this is a permanent point of connection for humanity.

This is not to say that we all see the same moon in the same way. I was looking at the moon through a window, a very different window from the window I looked at it through only a week previous. Now in Orange County, I look through a window placed between walls and trees and grass and wood floors that make up a home with a history I don’t know yet but will soon become a part of. How many times has this window seen Stephanie gardening in the front yard, Sarah not understanding why Stephanie can’t hear her yelling through the glass? Mary looking at housing prices and watching for the bus? Bowls of cereal with the sunrise?

Stained with the struggles, questions, dreams, and hopes of those that have looked through it for countless years, this window serves as a lens to the universal landscape with a filter of individual history. Our window has seen questions of difference, inequality, disability, and love. Maybe the house down the street looks at the moon through a window that has seen scenes regarding wealth, happiness, and what it means to be successful. Maybe on the other side of the planet, a family looks at the moon through a window without glass, carved out of clay. Maybe that window has been witness to the struggles of poverty, of identity, of the battles between culture and the need to survive. Probably too close to home, someone is looking at the moon through a window that only exists in the imagination. This window has held the struggles that come with wondering about the next meal and the night’s weather forecast. Every window shows us the moon–the same moon–yet every window has a vastly different story.

As I sat at the dinner table that night, I felt lucky to be looking at the moon. More importantly though, I felt lucky to be looking at it through that window, now becoming a part of its unique history, a witness to its responsibility as a lens to life’s greater connectedness. Needless to say, I’ll be keeping my spot at the dinner table.

Beginning

27 Mar

I’m assuming you know who I am, as my two readers (hey Mom and Dad!), have known me for a while. If by some chance you are not my parents, thanks for stopping by! My name is Diana and I will be using this blog to write about…well, we will have to find out, won’t we? I didn’t intend to write a blog. In fact, having recently graduated from college, I was excited for a break from writing assignments. It seems though that this is writing of a different breed. This adventure has no requirements, no hovering red pens, no collegiate expectations. I am free. That being said, I will try to remain focused in the most liberal sense of the word. Here’s a little background.

I recently moved to Orange County to work as an assistant with an organization called L’Arche, an international non-profit with 137 houses for people with disabilities in over 40 countries. Each L’Arche community is home to a handful of disabled adults, called core members, and their assistants. In sharing life, all residents grow together as they explore questions of disability, vulnerability, and what it means to be human. My house is home to five core members: Mary, Matt, Connor, Stephanie, and Sarah. Now, to live with L’Arche is not to run away to Antarctica to save the polar bears from melting ice caps or to the rainforests to jump in front of bulldozers as they knock down trees. It is more simple than that. More complex maybe. More ordinary. It is sharing life. It’s going to the bookstore and looking out windows and washing dishes. It’s the ordinary moments that lead to a lifetime of meaning. It is how you can be waiting at a stoplight for three minutes and suddenly get side swiped during your first few seconds in the intersection. It is finding a dollar in your pocket, a note in your lunch box, a sunset through the fog. It is the little, ordinary moments that lead to a life of beauty. Every second that leads to years, every word that leads to paragraphs and books, every decision that leads to fulfillment.

My plan is to focus on the simple, on those everyday things that sometimes go unnoticed but are fundamental to our ability to make sense of life. There is magic behind everything, goodness within anything, and beauty in all. Thanks for reading.

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