Thursday, January 23, 2014

Socially Acceptable

The past couple days I've been thinking about social conventions-- things that we do or ways that we dress that are not necessarily for ourselves but for the benefit and comfortability of others.

I'm not talking about streaking or anything.  I like clothes and think that there is importance in being modest.

I am talking about things even more subtle than that.

Let me give you a couple examples:

A few years ago I went deaf in one of my ears.  I've learned to live with it and it's not that big of a deal to me now most days, but I still wear two headphones when I listen to music in them.

Think about that for a second.... Why would a person who cannot hear AT ALL in her left ear wear two headphones?  I'll give you a few reasons.  First, it's more comfortable, especially if I'm going for a run or working out.  Second, and primary, it's so that people won't think I'm rude when I don't answer them.  If I'm sitting in the library and working and someone comes up and starts talking to me and I don't have a headphone in... they're gonna think I'm aloof and rude.  That's not how I choose to present myself.

My second example is a little different...

I had surgery on my head a little over a month ago.  Since then I have been wearing headbands everyday to help hide my scar and my hair loss.  However, lately I have really just not wanted to worry about it and to wear my hair down.  That won't do though...

There is something unforeseen in society about seeing the little imperfections.  We want to ignore these things... in the case of my scar, someone may find it gross, or in the case of my hearing, it's inconvenient.

This morning I got up, took a shower, and began to do my hair.  I looked at myself in the mirror.  Although it didn't match up to what I would necessarily want for my hair, it is who I am right now.  It won't always be that way, but right now it is.  I looked at myself and what I saw was beautiful.  It was a girl who has been through so much lately, and working through it day to day.  It was a girl who has been struggling with body image her entire life, like most people, but learns to see herself through the eyes of Christ.  I just wanted to braid my hair right then or to wear it down and proud... because I am proud of who I am.  I've fought long and hard to become that person.

... but then I remembered other people.  With work, meetings, hanging out with friends, and other responsibilities today, I knew that the right thing would be to be "socially acceptable".

How much do we let others define who we are and what we think of ourselves?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

When in Egypt...

In late November Baylor had an away game.  Some friends and I were trying to figure out how to watch it, and eventually ended up going over to one friend's house.  While we were sitting there watching our team lose for the first time all season, we started to want food.  Then one friend sitting there chimes in with how she heard that in Egypt most restaurants will drive food to you.

Needless to say, we began to wish we were in Egypt.

Later that evening we found ourselves driving an hour further into the state of Texas (which really isn't hard since it takes 12 hours to get from the top of the state to the bottom, and even longer than that when driving from East to West).  We imaged ourselves going to Egypt and going on this adventure in our minds.  We found ourselves listening to music, laughing at one friend making up cheesy Christian children's songs, and enjoying the company and intimacy that only a road trip through Texas at night provides.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about road trips and driving.

I think there are several reasons for this.  First off, the experience I described above reminded me of my love of these trips.  Secondly, I live in the great state of Texas.  Road trips in Texas, especially central and east Texas, are like no where else.  Wild flowers in the spring, corn fields in the summer, and sunsets in the fall and winter.  Texas really is a special place.

The third, and possibly the most prominent reason is because I recently had this ability taken away from me.  If you follow my blog you know that I have had some health issues over the past months.  This blog is not a place to describe them, but due to some recent complications, I am not allowed to drive for six months.

In all honesty, I am not coping with this news very well.

I am a pretty independent person.  I love driving around by myself, listening to worship or folk music loudly, harmonizing, or listening and learning from National Public Radio (NPR).  Over the past couple of weeks with adapting to this change, I have realized that car time is one of the few times I love to be introverted.  I spend time with God, listening to music, and thinking.  It is my me time.  And in a rushed, modern world, that is invaluable.

It is winter break, so I am home from school for a month.  Believe me, without the ability to drive and not having as many friends at home (as is what happens when we grow older), this is becoming increasingly challenging.  

The other night my dad was driving me home from visiting some family on the other side of the metroplex.  While we were driving I learned something very important about myself and about the world in which we live.  Over the past couple of years I have become increasingly aware of how much the music I grew up listening to in the car influenced the person I've become.  

When I drove with my dad we would listen to Classical 101.1 and point out the different musical elements and instruments to one another.  We would also listen to NPR together from time to time listening to variety acts on saturday afternoons and Car Talk on sundays after church (I didn't and still don't like this show... mostly 'cause I'm not a car person).  Riding in the car with my father taught me how to listen.  I'm a natural talker, but riding in the car with him helped to learn to focus on the little things and to differentiate 3/4 and 6/8 meters as well as the oboe from the clarinet.  In the past couple years one of my close friends has been an intern for the NPR station in Waco, KWBU.  I have grown to love NPR.  One of my best friends called me one day and told me she wanted to get dinner with me that night just so we could discuss something she heard on the station earlier in the day.  Due to my experience riding in the car with my dad, I am more aware of the world, more cultured, a musician, and was a music minor in college.

With my mom, we listened to more Top 40 songs.  While this didn't make me cultured in the same way, it kept me up to date with pop culture.  I loved and still love singing and listening to music with my mom.  I also talked more with her!

One of the things that has stood out the most to me recently from riding with my mother was when I was little.  She had these Peter, Paul, and Mary children's tapes.  I grew up with "Puff the Magic Dragon", "Blowing in the Wind", and "This Land is Made for You and Me" as my friends.  It wasn't until my senior year of college that I learned that these songs are anti-violent 1960's politically charged, folk songs.  That blew my mind.  To me they are children's songs.  But now they're some of my favorites, and my Peter, Paul, and Mary Pandora station is one of my most visited.  

I have realized the importance of car rides.  Whether my memories are from the deep conversations I've had with friends in the car, the awkward third wheel times, listening to music, or long church trips with a book opened and Mumford and Sons in my ear, in this day and age, car rides are very important.  I think we often neglect to think about how important they are.

I'm going to really miss having my car this semester.  The thing I'm going to miss the most is the atmosphere that it allows me to have-- the deep thinking, the belting and harmonizing, or the stillness.  

But I've also been trying hard to think of it another way.  Not having a car means that I'm going to have to depend more on those around me-- the friends and the family that I have established over my 23 years of living and my almost 5 years of living in Waco.  It means that I will get to create new memories and experiences.  It means that I get to learn from more friends, our conversations, their music, or the stillness of the ride.  It means that I get to take a step out of my life and learn from those around me.

Thinking back to the ride with those friends on that chilly November night, I realized that I think the best when riding in the silence of cars.  The roar of the engine and the company of those around me comforts me.

Sitting in the silence, with the folk music lightly playing on the stereo, enjoying each other's presence, but needing no words...

Then a friend asks, "Hey guys, remember that time we went to Egypt?"