I spent part of the weekend at the beach and I definitely came home with a sunburn.
Not a cute “Oh, look at me, I spent the weekend at the beach and got a little burned in the course of being awesome” kind of sunburn, but the awkward, looks-like-I-missed-a-spot sunburn. My left shoulder has the outline of my tank top. My right shoulder does not. My nose is bright red, but the rest of my face didn’t get burned at all.
There was no sunscreen involved (which may have been mistake #1, but whatever.)
When will I learn?
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– I’ve been sitting on a lot of street corners lately. (For instance, here.) Trying to connect a lot of the dots in my life. And it’s such a help to just s…l…o…w down in this busy city.
Today I sat at a Starbucks across the street from a Jewish temple and listened to an old man with a beautifully deep voice sing a Hebrew blessing. It was warm, welcoming, but with this sense of longing, of sadness, of incompleteness. I don’t speak Hebrew. I have no idea what was being sung at all, but I know that song. I’ve lived that ‘not always, but now and not forever’ feeling. That sense of being left unfinished for some future day. I wanted to go join in.
Because sometimes you don’t need words to understand.
Some days, I just want to go stand in the middle of the street and scream. Scream for every frustration and injustice. Scream that I’m tired and that my soul is worn through. Scream for all the moments of exhaustion and pain and brokenness.
But I think if I did that, they’d probably send the nice men in the snappy white coats to take me away.
Or maybe someone would come scream with me. Maybe instead of ‘What the hell?’ there would be a sense of Finally. Someone doing what we’ve all wanted to do. Wordless validation of those deep heart thoughts.
And maybe they’d come scream alongside. Hearts ripped open and held up for the world to see.
Because sometimes you don’t need words to understand.
But we’d just scream. Get it all out. Maybe we’d hug or shake hands or at least make eye contact and nod. As you were. Or not. Because now, we’d all know…
We are not alone anymore.
Reblogged for Basileia here.
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It’s a funny game we’ve all played at one point or another, faced with some beautiful moment, or, perhaps more painfully and poignantly – some horrific moment of embarrassment or failure (not that I’ve ever had those. For reals. You believe me, right? Right?)
I wish I could go back and try that all over again.
Sometimes I imagine the me of 2012, walking through my high school hallways once again – that place where I started becoming myself – inhabiting my teenage self once again, now strolling through with several years more experience filling out my heart and soul, and I’d be able to say with perfect clarity and understanding, Don’t worry. Today is not forever.
But maybe that’s unfair. Just like I don’t carry around the experiences of my 30-year-old self simply because she doesn’t exist yet – maybe seventeen year old Lynn couldn’t have carried around the experiences of 2012 me. Maybe it would have made being a teenager even more overwhelming – how am I ever supposed to make it into a future already written out? Maybe it would have made being a teenager completely interminable – who wants to sit through yet another chemistry lesson when I’ve already breathed in the future memories of writing, of meeting my heroes, of finally living and learning what it looks like to live in intentional community with people I dearly love?
Does it strip away the delight of uncovering each day as it comes? Does it take away the thrill of a challenge if you already know not only that you will overcome it, but that you’ve got the memories of already doing just that? Perhaps there’s a magic of not knowing, of not carrying those future memories of experiences that would make me so much more brilliant today, and yet so much emptier. I would not be me, and yet I would have already been made me. There would be no moment of becoming, no sharp and painfully beautiful moment of shedding what was old to move into the new.
I have a habit of living in moments that seem utterly and completely ordinary or small – only to realize later that this moment was the air and wind and water and soul sustenance that would let me become the me of the future.
And maybe that’s the way it always is. We live our history without it being HISTORY in the grand sense of the word. Because for us, it’s not history… simply life, with all of its beauty and disappointments and funny little mundane moments of 5:02 in the afternoons.
I would rather know what my scars were from than simply waking up one morning with healed remnants of those deep heart gashes and no ability to steer a different path to the future. How can there be grace if you can’t remember why you need it?
And even more importantly – I would rather be surprised by those moments of sheer unadulterated life, when heaven invades earth, pressing in so closely that the only thing my soul can process is I want to live in this moment forever.
And I kind of love the idea of an entire future of moments stretched out in front of me, waiting one at a time, a million little twinkling lights in the distance…
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Friends! It’s the return of my Halfway Good At a Lot of Things series! (Finally!)
The questions resonate through your artist head as you decide whether or not to share…
What if you don’t like my heart? Or my voice? Or my color choices? Or my words?
What if you don’t like me?
These are huge and scary questions. I know that. You know that.
So now what?
I have to take the risk!!!
Art doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Art by its very nature is meant to be shared (it’s like a good cup of coffee that way!) Critiqued. Loved. Hated. When we share our art, we learn to be better artists. We get embarrassed every so often. I can hear some of you worrying and freaking out already. But when you share your creativity, you’re inviting others in to your art. Into your story. Be open to it. Share. Early and often. It’s why I blog. It’s why I tweet links to my posts. I’m not perfect. I don’t have it all sorted out. I want people to challenge me, to push back on the ideas I write about, to completely agree or disagree with me.
Risk by its very nature is messy. Ugly. Scary. It means opening yourself up to the chance that someone’s going to take your heart and just completely crush it. Then sweep up the little tiny pieces and throw it in a blender for round 2.
But think about it…
We take risks every single day. Some are big ones. Some are tiny. Truthfully, they’re mostly small ones. But that doesn’t make then any less important – We meet new people. We make new friends. We listen to a new album. We pay $10 to go see a movie we’ve never even heard of before today. We read a new book that might rip our preconceived notions right out of our hands and turn the world into something enormous and unsettled and beautiful and unfinished. We ask questions with the possibility of making us look stupid. We take a new job. Move to a new city. We fall in love with the boy in the coffee shop.
Look at each of those normal-life-human risks as practice for all of your artist risks.
So share your newly written and still imperfect songs with your fellow musicians. Bake that complicated cake with meringue frosting (and please send me your how-to’s) for your friends. Hand over that short story you’ve been mulling over for two years. Hit send on the email to your hero, asking if you can buy a cup of coffee and pick their brain for half an hour about why they do what they do.
Living life is a risk, my artist awesome friends.
Go do it.
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It’s just me and my MacBook.
That’s right. I have an old-school MacBook with the white plastic cover and letters that are starting to wear off the keys. When my laptop finally dies, I am going to cry. It’s going to be messy. And bad. And Luke’s not going to know what to do except bring me a cupcake and give me a hug. Eeeek! What a sad day that will be. (The broken computer, not the hug. Or the cupcake. You know what I mean.)
Every so often people ask me what I couldn’t live without as a writer, and my answer is always a good solid laptop (or other such writing apparatus – do you know they still make typewriters?? If I had room, I would buy one. And put it right next to my record player with Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald and the rest of my 45’s.)
Ol’ Blue Eyes aside, as a writer, you and your computer are going to be spending a lot of time together. We’re talking besties here, people. 7th grade friendship necklaces and all. You have to find one that you love. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t even have to be new. But there just has to be something about it that fits you. I love the little plinking sound my keys make when I type. I love that my ‘s’ key is wearing away. (Luke so kindly offered to get me a new keyboard, and from my reaction, you’d have thought he’d asked me to burn down my own home. I’m a writing geek – that ‘s’ is like my own personal little battle scar, and no! I do not want a new one. Thank you. He thought I was funny and maybe just a little off my rocker.) Finding the perfect laptop is like finding the perfect little black dress. It’s an investment piece that’s totally you. So you buy it. Bring it home. And then you take care of it. Buy a case for it. Buy q-tips and rubbing alcohol to keep it clean. (Am I the only one who does this? Really?) It’s yours, from here on out.
So there you have it. My name is Lynn and I heart my laptop.
Other writers out there – what couldn’t you live without???
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– It’s late in the evening as the sun sets over Los Angeles. I’m listening to the city tonight. Living it. Experiencing it. I don’t do this often enough. I wake up, I go to work, I go on to my evening plans. I’m always insulated. There’s always a layer between me and my city.
But tonight, I’m sitting at the corner of Sunset and Highland, waiting for a friend. For those of you feeling particularly research-y (or stalkery… take your pick) – Google Maps will tell you that yes, I am at Chick Fil-A. They’re everywhere in Denver, but gold for us LA people in search of the perfect waffle fry. It was delightfully whimsical – like my sweet friend – and I loved it. Anyway… back to the city.
There’s an energy and beauty here. A sense of life. An organic, earthy, human feel to this city that I miss so often. Tonight, I heard snippets of conversation as people walked by. I heard songs on other people’s radios, heard the crunch of tires against the curbs and pavement, heard birds chirping, and heard my own thoughts for a few minutes. I sat in the open air and took a deep breath.
I got to stop. I got to rest. I was wonderfully inspired by a conversation on creativity and hope and the fact that Los Angeles is not an abandoned city.
Have I mentioned how much I love living here?
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