Monday, October 30, 2006

I do not die

Must I go on forever without end
On this weary road I wend?
Silver streams and starry skies
Break with rocks and bitter lies

Sow my soul inside your flesh
Burn me whole or drink me fresh
I do not die despite these sores
I do not fall despite these wars

But must I go forever on this road
Fighting for what I am owed?
Straggling through the emptiness?
Vagabond and purposeless?

There is no balm in Gilead
There is no strength save what I had
And that was mine but is no more
Yet I relive what was before

Awake, but dreaming, I am blind
Sacred, screaming, far behind
Bury deep my wounded soul
Rake my breath across the coal

I do not die, despite the pain
I do not melt, despite the rain
I do not fall, despite the weight
I do not cry, despite my fate

The pyre is high that burns for me,
That kills my insincerity
They wish I’d go and ne’er return
But I do not die despite the burn.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Five Rings

I've been reading the Five Rings. It's an old classic Japanese work about the way of the Samurai. I got an annotated version, which has its upsand downs. The work itself reads pretty well already so the notes tend to have a lot of regurgitating of already established information. On the upside... I can't really think of a significant upside to the "annotated" part, but they're not too bad.

Anyway, the book is cool. There are a lot of basic principles that could be applied to any endeavor or profession in life. So I've been taking notes on excerpts I think are interesting or important. One thing I noted was a little bit about posture.

"In general, you must maintain the fighting stance in everyday life. Your everyday posture must immediately become the fighting stance."

The intensity of this line struck me once I truly considered its implication. The underlying principle is that in order to be a fighter, to walk in the "Way" of this martial strategy, a person has to be a fighter at all times, not just when you fight. Posture, then, becomes not just a good idea and not just something you practice an hour or two a day, but something you make a ceaseless endeavor, an integral part of your identity. My imagination blows me away when I think of how much you could accomplish if you applied that kind of thinking so intensely to everything to which you put your mind.

The book also has a very good emphasis on balance, self-control, and clarity of mind. I am not all that far along in it yet, but I'm enjoying it so far.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Our World

Maybe this really isn't of any greater importance than it has been before this time, but I've been struck recently with the craziness of all that's been going on in the world. The more I hear about news from all over the world, the more concerned I become for the entire world as a whole. I know violence and strife and even utter madness have been a part of this life for millenia, that war has always been an issue, that poverty has taken its toll throughout the ages and that men and women have done horrific and insane things to one another in the past. But for some reason, the recent string of events has caused me to look at the world with much greater concern, for I get the impression, accurate or not, that the evil in this world is in the midst of an uprising. The idea is one I usually try to shy away from, because it has been touted by religious ultra-evangelicals for some time and it often has to do with someone talking about the "signs of the times", yet another reason for us to just shake our heads and hope Jesus comes back soon to end it all. But that's not what I'm about and that's not the attitude I seek to invoke in myself or others. But something in me says that what's going on in our world today, from the nuclear testing in North Korea to the continuing middle east conflict with Israel to the ongoing struggle in Uganda and Sudan, to local stories of normal people acting ridiculous and even the heated election races, with all their fearmongering.

I know it's easy to say, yeah yeah, that's the news, and they always tell you the worst part of it and things have been bad before, blah blah blah. Some people might not think it's important that there's an underlying trend and movement in all of these crises, a spiritual menace that's making itself known. It's easy to assume that this is the world we live in and we just need to live as well as we can in it and pray for things to get better. For some reason, I cannot say why, but I do say with confidence and conviction, I believe there is an underlying spiritual wave and that it is important to recognize it as we try and live well in this world and pray for God's goodness in it.

That being said, I see there is a lot to pray about in this world, and if anyone is reading this, I want to encourage them first and foremost to pray, and pray hard. Pray, because the times are evil, as the scriptures say. There is hope for this world and we need to cling to it and have faith and be salt and light, as Jesus taught us.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


I saw Donald Trump on CNN the other night, after returning from Chicago. Yes, I was up later than I should have been, but I've been doing that for weeks now, so what of it? Anyway, he was talking about his book, "Rich Dad, Poor Dad", and I thought it sounded really interesting. They talked about how you don't learn to deal with money in school or anywhere, but how most people learn to deal with money from the home. It sounded really interesting, partly because I don't come from a rich family and I feel like I know absolutely nothing about really 'increasing my means' as he puts it. Lots of people know how to live within their means, he claims, but the book is supposed to tell you how to increase your means. I don't particularly like the idea of trying to find happiness by getting money and living the high life, but I was impressed nonetheless, and I cannot deny my own desire to have the kind of income that would allow me to pursue the things I love, like traveling and... food.

But what really struck me about Trump in this interview on television is that he was saying he wants us to be able to make money and be happy. Despite my disagreement on the point of where happiness lies, it was impressive to me that he claimed to genuinely want others to be successful for their happiness. I know it could be some nice sounding gibberish from a guy who wants to sell his book and needs to pass himself off as a nice guy, and from any other guy I'd assume that was the case. But this is Donald Trump. He's rich enough that he doesn't need to be nice to sell a book teaching people to deal with money, and he doesn't really need to sell the book anyway. People would buy it whether he was nice about it or not, especially considering the persona he's developed in his reality tv show. He claims he genuinely enjoys teaching people. It's just cool to see after watching stupid info-mercials about how to get rich quick, which you know are really scams or crackpot schemes that will only confuse you instead of actually bringing you a profit. Trump insists you have to know what you're doing, take the time and effort and experience needed to know the ropes of the business world.

It's just made me think more and more about our world that we live in. There are a lot of people around who actually want others to be happy. The church mentality I grew up around said the world was evil and that everyone in it was steeped in sin and if they didn't have God, then they couldn't do good. It was not entirely pervasive in my church or my family, but it was there. It was in scripture according to interpretation and it was floating around. I've since come to see that there is a lot of good all around me, and that God is active in this world and making things new and that people who don't necessarily experience his manifest presence are nevertheless affected. I know there is still a dark underbelly to our society and that there is still evil in the world, but when I see people like Donald Trump wanting others to be happy and Bill Gates and his wife spearheading the effort to end disease and poverty in Africa, I just have to admit that that has to come from somewhere.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Rehearsals soon

I start rehearsals for "Edgardo Mine" at the Guthrie on Tuesday of next week. I'm very excited about it. I am only an extra in the show, but it's a fabulous opportunity to work with some extroardinary people in a very professional environment. My impressions so far are of personable professionality. Everyone I have met is very easy-going and friendly, but also very composed and professional. Yesterday we had a Meet-and-Greet, followed by the first run-through of the script. I was invited to the luncheon meeting and allowed to sit in on the read-through, which lasted the rest of the afternoon. It was great, because Alfred Uhry, the playwright for our script - the same who wrote Driving Miss Daisy, sat in with us and contributed to discussion about the story and the characters. I felt like I was in extremely distinguished company. Several of the actors, along with the director, were from New York. So I'm looking forward to putting on this show.

Edgardo Mine is a great story. If you want to know more about it, look it up. I don't feel like describing everything. But we had some really interesting conversation revolving around religion and belief, violence and beauty. It was a very good time. Despite the fact that I know I come from a different upbringing than a lot of the people there and am not quite so liberal as most of those in the theater scene, I feel like I belong when I'm around them. Whether I do or not, it's a positive feeling.