Wednesday, December 11, 2013

stigmata of splinters

We must be content to live without watching ourselves live, to work without expecting an immediate reward, to love without an instantaneous satisfaction.
--Thomas Merton

Today, I walked out of my last class of the semester.
This particular semester came to a rather cozy, but jarring end.
Jarring and cozy are usually mutually exclusive, but not today.
The end was jarring, as in: not unwelcome, but sooner than expected, and unlooked for.
It was also cozy, as in: the ending came on this particular day, which is filled with very large snowflakes, snuggly Starbucks tables filled with laughter, Eucharistic warmth, and Advent.

Advent means that the promise of Christmas hangs in the air, and five different Christmas caroling/Holiday concert events happen every single evening.

These are all very cozy things. 
Particularly because they take place in locations that possess central heating, which is a necessary luxury during this particularly blizzard-ly week in Northern Indiana.

The best kind of concerts are the kind that come right to you: like the carolers that invaded that hallowed and sacred study social space: The Lafunderground. 
Reminiscing all the while about the glory days of my sophomore year self, I read for a bit, laughed a lot more, and fell asleep in a Lafunderground booth, proving that all a Sleep Artist/Professional Narcoleptic needs to be able to fall asleep is a friend nearby to watch her laptop.
Or the kind of concert that comes to your dormitory, filling a common space up with gentlemen in Christmas sweaters singing sofas of ladies; and providing mistletoe as a catalyst for young men and women a bit intoxicated with Holiday spirit, daydreams of sugar plums, and perpetual "All I Want for Christmas is You" sing-a-longs to plant chaste little kisses on each other's cheek.

With fond farewells, the chivalrous carolers depart to serenade more rooms full of more ladies, and the ladies retire to their rooms to "study." 
But, as any person who has ever had a sleepover knows, sleep, study, or anything productive takes a back seat to the real task of a sleepover, which is to have tête-à-têtes and heart-to-hearts. These talks are a very Eucharistic type of cozy. 
A sturdy warmth emanates from them, the sort of warmth that glues communities together. 

I find it fascinating that we so often designate a conversation as "good."
Why do we do this? I wondered. And what on earth do we mean by 'good'?
I wondered about this strange fact, as I wandered out of the classroom rather in a haze, into the snow globe that was swirling outside.
I wondered about it more as, on my walk to the dining hall, the wind blew giant snowflakes into me, and I walked into the warm vestibule, looking like a melting snowman.

I thought, perhaps, that too often I designated a conversation good if I so palpably felt that warmth of intimacy emanating from it.
If I could feel the delight in sharing words and moments as solidly as the sweet, hot oatmeal in my stomach, then I would call the conversation good.
A "good" conversation, I perhaps too often decide, is one which every exchange of words is as nurturing and filling as my blueberry breakfast oatmeal.
But those conversations are not "good" conversations, they are the best conversations, they are the ideal.
But, being human, after all, means that the ideal eludes us 99.87 percent of the time.
Perhaps conversations are somewhat like a piece of art, which is imperfect, but always strives for the ideal.  
Our art, our conversations, will sometimes find it; in a glorious moment, for a glorious moment, what we have created will be the ideal. But most of the time, it is flawed.
But its flawed nature doesn't mean that it is not worth making.
On the contrary, we make art to be imperfect.

My theatre professor chided me for looking for the flaws first and foremost.
Such a critical eye for looking at other humans, he warned me with an avuncular twinkle in his eye, would preclude any sort of romantic relationship.
But also, he taught me that we are too attuned to the imperfect, to apt to push away what seems imperfect, and too keen to criticize, instead of embrace, the flawed.

For hidden inside the imperfectness are veins of gold, darting through the stubble like gilded sparks, sparkling, dazzling revelations of the ideal that, if we are only seeking perfection, could easily be brushed over, forgotten, their significance lost on our inattentive minds.
But if we only take the time to truly see them, perhaps we will find the art not so flawed after all. If we stop looking for the flaws and start looking for these little gems, then perhaps we will find it good.


No comments:

Post a Comment