Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I found this prayer online and I decided to pay it forward by sending it to my e-mail friends. Today, I found mysef looking feverishly for it because I needed it myself.........Here it is
O my God,
I know that you love me.
And I know that you want me to be happy, safe and secure,
But sometimes it's so hard to find you in all my troubles.
I know that there are many people worse off than me,
But please help me with my problems.
I'm so worried, God.
Please help me find the support I need.
Please help me not to worry too much.
Please help me to be humble enough to accept help from others.
Please help me to stay away from the "what ifs" and the "if onlys."
Please help me to remember to help others, even when I still need help.
And please help me to trust in your loving kindness, your care and your grace.
Because I know that you love me, and you know that I love you.
And if all you want to give me right now is your love,
Please let that be enough for me.
James Martin, SJ
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
My question then: Is simply this? What is the process of loving on oneself? How do you love yourself? is there a golden rule book or play book that says, do x, y and z and you will love yourself? Where are the step-by-step directions or the accounts of their inner journeys?
It is not that I don't agree, it is that I am genuinely asking for the people like me who have been hurt and abused so much at times that it is hard to even conceptualise it. For with every effort you do make you have to contend first off with yourself...with the voices saying in your head who do you think you are, the fear of what the other person will think of you, if and when you set boundaries, the fear of being alone.Then you have to contend with others as well..
It is something that is easy to say but long and arduous to do. If you have grown up in a great childhood and a decent adolescence then great, you have a foundation. What about those of us who haven't had it so great? What is a frame of reference to begin?And when do you know that you have arrived?
If all those people who advocate loving yourself or better yet if someone who has had a less than perfect start has completed the journey, can you give the rest of us a holler and some steps to follow instead of just saying to love yourself and looking down on us poor mortals who are struggling? Some tips anyone? And please...... no cliches......
Thursday, July 23, 2009
We have for the past few weeks been awash in the media storm surrounding the death of Michael Jackson. Whether it is looking at (or not looking) at the latest controversial bit of news or indulging ourselves in a bit of Michael nostalgia by watching his videos, there is no doubt about the impact of the news of his death. However, after the first retrospective of the videos, we kind of got focused on the controversy. We stopped examining his art. For me, watching Michael's videos and seeing him talk about his creative process has been a revelation for me as a creative person who loves music, dance, art and writing.
The first lesson I learnt as a creative person was watching how Michael danced. We all know what a phenomenal dancer he was. But according to many people, Michael used to drive choreographers crazy at times. This is because he was a very good improv dancer and at times, I suspect, not always technically correct. Michael however, had an excellent sense of what his body can do. And was smart enough to know what his body can't. Michael's lines were always straight, clean and sharp. It seemed revolutionary at the time. He basically however, created the best line and form to suit his ectomorph body type. What was revolutionary for me was that he became the best at doing himself and THAT is what made him innovative. He felt the music and gave his body the form to suit that music. For me, this will always be immortalized in the "Another Part of Me" video when his dancing so mirrored the step-like progression of the rhythms and chord in the music. Michael had a dance studio in his house, where he worked on his craft at home, even when he did not have to. Now that is dedication.
As a music lover, I only had the most respect for Michael. However, it was not just because the music he created was great pop music. It was listening to snippets of interviews of him and others talking about his creative process that made me truly admire him. Michael did not just create music out of his head. He studied music, analyzed sound. I remember seeing a Rodney Jerkins interview where Rodney was saying that Michael encouraged him to go out into the "field" (as Michael called it) and study the sounds in the real world and use that to make music. I saw Michael talk about the process of creating "Billie Jean", saying that he first wanted to write a song with a strong bass line. And then describing how he created the bass line while riding along in the car and then the rest of the song. Michael was a student of music and sound. For me, my craft is writing and in order to shine with lasting excellence in the use of your creative talents, he taught me that you must not only perform constantly but study it analytically.
As for Michael as a songwriter, he is an interesting one to watch. Despite for all his altruistic, save the world lyrics, Michael was not a one dimensional song writer. In fact, some of his subject matter was kind of well, dark. The interesting thing about Michael though is that some of his darker songs were so artfully presented in the videos that unless you really took apart the lyrics, the impact would not hit you. The video for "Blood on the Dance Floor" just seems like an interesting salsa twist to Michael until you hear the lyrics. This is sample of the chorus:
Susie got your number
And Susie ain't your friend
Look who took you under
With seven inches in
Blood is on the dance floor
Blood is on the knife
Susie's got your number
And Susie's edge is right
That is not exactly the most light-filled lyric…..The lyrics to "Leave Me Alone" and "They Don't Really Care About us" shows that Michael is much more than heal-the-world (pardon the pun) and other feelgood type of songs. Here is man who really expressed himself succinctly and with depth in his lyrics. As writer, I have to respect that.
For all that I was a fan of Michael; I guess it is now, in death that I have truly learned about him. Michael, I not only love you as a fan but I respect you as a creative person. Long live not only the King of Pop but the King of Excellence in Creativity.