Thought Into Existence – The 100th

Here’s the second of previously started writings that I never got around to posting. This, I believe, came from early September of last year.  Why did I choose this one?  It’s a fair question.  I think it’s rather significant, and there’s a lot that goes into thoughts.  This of course becomes personal, and possibly egotistical, but ah, perhaps it’s time you met more of who I am.  As I’ve reached this kind of milestone, I think it’s due time for some memories and that oh so fun and lovely thing known as nostalgia.  With that, I begin.

~

“We’ve stumbled upon something.  Because God is unceasingly thinking about us, we continue to exist.”  Approximately what my best friend said, though with less of her finesse or characteristic speech patterns.  It’s highly likely that I just did both an injustice.

A while back, we were discussing superpowers, of all things, and the idea of being able to think someone to you.  However long you’re focused and thinking about them, they remain present, and it’s only when they leave your mind that they return to wherever they were.  Naturally, this power is something that should have a number of caveats, like some amount of control as to when it works, otherwise you might have dozens or even hundreds of people popping into existence next to you for the briefest of instances.
Though of course, my mind would definitely turn its attention to such individuals, and well, there goes my peace and quiet.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about… people… a lot.  I guess it’s just in our human nature, to have others on our minds.  My time at work is devoted to focus on people.  There’s that connection that every interaction needs to have, and it’s truly a life skill to have, being able to touch people with the most basic of things.

Well, what more basic and heartfelt way is there than a prayer for them? That’s often what happens at work. Whenever there’s a lull in the number of incoming guests and while I’m maybe cleaning or restocking something, I might ask that my mind be focused on who it needs to.

An odd feeling, instinctual in nature, was what struck me.  It was at 5pm today, and I had no idea what caused it.  There I was, having an immensely enjoyable time at work, when suddenly I felt it internally, like a shiver that lacked the icy surroundings.  It’s hard to be sure, but I knew in that moment that something wrong had happened somewhere.
I couldn’t be sure if someone I knew had been affected, and so I did the only thing I could: asked God to help… someone out there.

*The physicality of my power is of course, limited – but by the universality of the Church, I can go quite far indeed. This is perhaps part of the beauty of faith, that we can believe and hope in goodness, even if we might never see the results of that which we hold to.

It’s like… Legacy. You don’t get to see what remains in the aftermath of your leaving, in your wake. Lots of people are concerned with what sort of mark they’re leaving, what lives on beyond them.  I can only hope that I make a good impact, whether physical or spiritual.  I want to bring my loved ones home with me.  I don’t want to lose them.  That’s the mark I wish for, the mark of those I surround myself with, living evermore.

~

When I started writing this blog roughly four years ago, I never thought that I would end up where I am today.  If I try to think back and remember what I was concerned about at the time, it was probably the next fun Scouting activity I would attend, or perhaps the upcoming youth group meeting with 1×1 at Saint Maximilian Kolbe, or maybe not looking dumb in front of some girl I was trying to impress.

Back then, I was more girl crazy than in recent times – shocker, I know – and I do apologize to anyone who has seen me in such a state, at any stage of my young life.  In conjunction with that, I was a more violent, more boisterous, and more brash character, things which I must again apologize for, as they are traits not yet vanished from who I am.
Still, there were positives.  I was a more avid reader, a person who was keen on drawing and making art in various media forms; someone who was not easily distracted or dissuaded from any goal, no matter how preposterous.  I loved really getting outside and breathing life in; not taking the heavens down to me in my confinement, but instead shooting upward to place myself among them like the many skyward sparks from the fire that I built with my own two hands.

Over the years, with each piece of media absorbed, I began to take on different characteristics of the people I saw, both fictional and not.  I believe I’m a very “feely” person, a very empathetic fellow, and oftentimes, being that sort of character can get me into good and bad mindsets.  In time, I took on the fun childishness of the Doctor, the witty cynicism of Fish, the imagination of Rose, the determination of Will, the rage and guilt of Batman and Daredevil, the force of Kestin and Edict, and the foolish hope of… oh, that might actually be mine.

The point is, I’ve changed, and more than I could have expected.  When I began, all those years ago, I never expected that leaving Scouting would push me onward to new adventures in Trail Life and Saint Gertrude.  The funny thing is, when I worked at Camp Friedlander, during staff week, we took a trip to St. Gertrude’s for an early Sunday Mass, which was one of my first experiences with the church.  And again, St. Gertrude’s returned when my older sister was leading me and my peers through the Ad Altare Dei religious emblem program, when we went there for vespers with the brothers.  Again, a third time, when my family was exploring different parishes, it almost became our home parish.  Almost.  And I think there was a very good reason for it not being so.

The reason?  If we had taken to Saint Gertrude, everything that is now, College Kenosis, my membership in the UC Society of Saint Paul, my role as an Altar Server at Annunciation, all of that would be nonexistent.  Perhaps even Eagle Eye would have been lost.  I can look back on those moments now and understand why things went a certain way, I see where the Spirit led me on this long road.
Thus, with the present hardships I’m facing, I can hope for the day that I get to look back on those and say: “Yes, this led me to the great here and now, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

I’ve been fortunate in my life to have been a part of many great communities:  Tang Soo Do, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Sacred Heart of Jesus Homeschool Group, Kali, St. Max, The RPG Group, Trail Life, St. Gertrude, my year’s P&G Resident Scholar Program family, Chick-Fil-A, The SSP, Eagle Eye and my fellow Eaglets, the CState Crew, and others that I’ve forgotten.

They all had or currently have their turn in forming me, and the people I have met have been guides, friends, and companions all.  I’ve lost a lot of them over the years.  Some faded from memory, some through my own fault, some with a heartfelt farewell, and some with a promise of renewal in some future day.

My legacy, my very heart, has been in my friends and family.  That’s why I think of them often, why they still exist to me in all the greatness that I knew them as.  They have been and always will be my spirit, and my strength is in them, no matter how much they change and vanish into their own futures, their own separate paths, and no matter how weak I myself become.

The weight of life is heavy, and it is painful to carry alone, we all know this.  As I’ve changed, feeling a strange vulnerability that I hardly experienced in younger years, as my eyes were opened to this world I live in, others were my guardians, and they saw me through the most desperate of times.

That’s who I am.  I am many, yet one.  I am the amalgamation of my experiences, I am the countless lives I have dreamed, but most importantly, I am the son of the Most High.
I am… Migi.

To everyone in my life, thanks for being part of my journey.

Chasing Perfection: A Brief Note

I’m going to make a bold claim, as an older brother ten years removed from my sibling, that it’s hard to relate to him.  Perhaps I have forgotten what it was like, being that age, and seeing the world in that different way, that mixed bag of extremes and simple, innocently testing fun.  Today, the reality was brought home that perhaps I still am very much like him after all.

See, it’s not often that I actually talk with my little brother, no, on the contrary, I half-heartedly listen at the best of times and ignore him at the worst.  There’s that to add to my list of faults.  I realize that interests change with time and age, yet if I could go back in time and look forward, I would be astounded at how little interest I now show in those little adventure books, in card games like Pokemon, or even in building with LEGOs.  Yeah, that last one is an actual problem.

So today (realize I began this the day of, but failed to see it through until now), after seeing him moping about on the couch for some odd reason (I assumed that he didn’t want to eat his lunch), I decided to talk to him to try and persuade him to get ready for an activity he had later.  As it turned out, he wasn’t sad for that reason at all.
No, what was causing distress was a picture he’d been drawing.  I believe the one in question was of a car, and he’d grown frustrated with a wheel’s roundness of all things.  Ah, if only the worst of my drawing problems was a lack of circular perfection!  He was beating himself up about it, burying his face in the pillows of our couch.  When I got to him at last, he was tearing up a bit, saying he’d never be as good as well… me.

It’s an oddly vicious cycle of comparison.  To compare to those we see as great is a balance, and I’m sure most would agree.  We tend to be partially inspired, and more often than not, discouraged!  Especially when we perceive a gap in what we have versus what they have.  So when I sat down next to him to tell him how I wasn’t the greatest by any stretch of the imagination, I could truly understand where he was coming from for once.  It was one of those situations where nothing is lost in translation, and one aspect that – unfortunately in certain senses – is not lost as we grow.

We lose heart when we realize that we either have a long way to go to reach what we perceive as great (which, by the way, might change to passable in our eyes when we actually get there), or simply think the task impossible.  One of those times where the word “never” comes to mind.

Is perfection subjective?  I don’t think so.  The word for that is perhaps the ideal.  What to us is the ideal, the standard by which we measure success?  I’m sure we can all think of answers to that.  The ideal picture of life… the life I can pretty much guarantee we won’t ever have.
Perfection on the other hand, is – I believe – objective, but there are many roads to that singular goal.  One only has to take the Saints.  So many unique travels, yet they came to that perfection which is holiness.  Unity with Christ.  Oh, to only truly long for such a thing.

However, to make the most and best of time on earth, I have some word of advice, and honestly, a bit of self-motivation at this point.

Don’t get lost in chasing an image.  Have an ideal, have a goal, sure, but don’t forget your own unique abilities.  While you may find a whole number of similarities between yourself and someone else, don’t try to become their carbon copy.  I know that’s easier said than done, but all we can do is our best, right?

It’s like my old gaffer said… no I’m just kidding, this awesomely hilarious priest said something similar is all.  To paraphrase for universality’s sake: “We are not called to be Saint Therese, or Saint Padre Pio, or Saint Josemaria Escriva, or – you get my point.
We are called to be Saint _____.”  So put your name there, sign that line (for those with longer names, I am so sorry that it’s a tiny line), make the commitment to strive for it.  It is beyond imperfect ideals, beyond the standards set by this flawed world.

I don’t say that to push you to sacrifice the pursuit of good and beautiful skills such as art, writing, leadership, a career, and all that.  No, not at all.  All I mean is that… there is more to our destinies than that.

So to return once more to the picture of my younger brother in distress over his artwork, we all have to start somewhere, right?  Should I have told him that this question of “can I ever be good enough?” would never leave him?  Did I perhaps give him false hope by encouraging him to move forward, and just draw and draw, over and over?  Should I have taught him that he would have to do the same with every step of his life’s journey?
Because you see it now, don’t you?  Life is the canvas, and we’re all artists.  And maybe we have some idea of where the line will fall, maybe we already have an idea of what we want to draw out… but we can never be sure until it’s truly on the page.

– M

P.S.  My bad, I did say it would be “brief” in the title.

In The Waters… – Eagle Eye Teen Summer Institute Pt. 14

“Oh dear, we are in trouble.” – My thought while doggedly swimming.

My plan to finish before Abide failed, so now I’m just writing to finish before everything fades. There’s a part of me that regrets that I’m basically rushing this now, but my brain can only keep so much! I promise if there’s anything I feel I need to expand upon further, I will.

Flashback a good seven or eight hours.  I was up in time for morning lauds, that much I said before.

Today was a talkative breakfast! In honor of Mary, we abandoned our traditional silence and ate and laughed uproariously. Because honestly, our Mum would be so proud of our crazily unique personalities.

What followed was a final gathering for Lectio, something I wish I had documented. I think that was the day we took the green benches on the field and sat around, partially doing Lectio and partially planning for the final campfire. It actually kinda hurts to say that, even though it’s in the past already… but then, now so much else is as well.  For our final philosophy class… you know what, I’m done saying final for a bit. It bugs me too much, so I’m just going for it:

Justice is not abstract, nor is it universal as shown in law, for especially in cases of law, justice is found in its application to particular situations, in real contexts. Not every case is the same, and they require an individual, particular response.
Justice, going back to that first point found in the nature of things, is when the agent/lawbreaker is given his due, and as we have already explored, their due is advancement. In the case of lawbreakers, the truly just decision must be one characterized by rehabilitation to allow their growth to continue.
How do we make such a decision? It requires love. Because how else would we be willing to at least try to help the person grow and become who they really are more perfectly?
Just justice can be loving, and all love must be just.

Thus we see that justice in its truest form is part of love, of God’s infinite mercy, for they require one another for fulfillment.

Possibly confusing, but I truly did try, I assure you.
What followed next was a quick choir session, then it was Mass time. I headed for the back to get vested and found one of… well… not totally unreasonable fit. I kept nearly tripping however, which was not good for Mass.

After Mass, something happened that was best described as a run for everywhere.
We had to get to our rooms, get changed, grab everything we might need for an afternoon on a farm, and then meet at the vans.  Our time spent there was something else, let me tell you.  The girls took first swimming shift while the guys crowded one room in the host family’s house and watched Tomas (?) playing the piano, one of Beethoven’s pieces I believe.  It was just… phenomenal.  We then headed for the pond as the girls finished their swimming some minutes later.

Let’s set the stage though: little raft + lots of guys = king of the… raft.  Naturally, I was booted off in short order, and, deciding to head for shore, I took off swimming.

Unfortunately for myself… I had underestimated the distance back.  The raft had drifted beyond the center of the lake towards the far side, and so I miscalculated.  As I was swimming, my legs, which had already been in pain earlier, stopped.  They stopped.  Couldn’t move them properly, couldn’t generate any reasonable propulsion, and I was still a good 30 or 40 feet from shore.  I didn’t panic just then, but I felt myself sliding into an upright position, my mouth swallowing a good amount of water in the process as I went down.  I considered attempting emergency treading, but dismissed the idea rather quickly, instead gamely pushing on toward shore using basically just my arms.  Oh my weak legs, how useless you were.  I was so close to shore when I went fully under, and that’s when the slight panic but also rather amused thoughts set in:

“Oh dear, my eulogy is going to be beyond lame.” was one thought, and the picture that came to mind was of the other Eaglets saying: “Dude, you seriously had to go and drown on the second to last day, didn’t you?”
It was only a few moments after completing such morbid thoughts that I felt my hand touch pebbles, but alas, they were slippery and my feet had nothing to stand on, so with everything that was left in me, I clambered out by the tips of my fingers.
I dragged myself onto the grass, and just lay there gasping for a moment, thinking: “Yeah, that’s me done for the day.”

TBC – M

The Way It Began – Eagle Eye Teen Summer Institute Pt. 2

When we left off, I spoke of exhaustion. Being exhausted perhaps both spiritually and physically.

While the second and third days involved a melange of painful hiking excursions in a non-stop fashion, they didn’t begin that way.

Upon traveling to the drop off point from which to begin our hike, we listened to Father Nathan’s rousing words about paying attention to God’s creation as we entered into it. Then, with that spirit in mind, we started. I know, quite momentous, eh?

And then we got lost. And then found our way. And got lost again.

It was a majestic contribution to our time together, and looking back, I can now say that I find it most agreeable. Then again, it is more pleasant in retrospect.

We had two religious with us: Father Francis-Therese and Brother Benedict, and their part in keeping us on track was a rather enjoyable experience, and something that I wish I had documented with my camera.

During our trek, we were not content to walk idly without learning more about one another, nor were we keen on the idea of not joking about and generally being guys.

So we began parkour… ing… whenever we jumped onto some rocky outcropping or catapulted around a tree trunk, we considered that sufficient behavior to claim it as parkour.

We also learned about one another, and our siblings. I finally found another human who understood my Hamilton references, and thus began to have my singing stuck in his head. Ah, Cameron, thou hast truly opened a can of worms.

And yet not all of the time was focused on practical jokes, stunts, and climbing off the beaten path (it happened more often than you’d think). We began to take the first step into a rejuvenation of our faith.

We started by praying the rosary on our trek.

Turning to Mary in those moments of exhaustion gave me some strength to pull me further onward and upward. I daresay without it, I would have simply stopped on the trail as the pain overcame my short legs.

When we finally arrived at our camp on the second day, we first snacked, then learned how to pray the Angelus and use the Eagle Eye Psalter.

I can still remember Sister Francesca joking that the + and – sign under the words of the psalms meant that some were better than others. No, hopefully I’ll always remember to go up or down an octave when I see those again.

Father Francis, ever the man of great variety, led us in the prayers, something which continued throughout the week. His singing voice is something to be greatly admired.

Dinner, then a Holy Hour at Saint Peter’s Church, then back to camp for the great and mighty campfire.

There’s so much that I want to say, but without context, it would either sound utterly terrible or simply be lost on you. And that would also be brought down by the fact that I have an imperfect memory. I apologize most sincerely.

We had skits about hikes and BEARS, about righteous families with that one kid, villains getting advice on how to change from an angel, and coming up with a skit.

Not only that, but songs were sung around the fire, the cool breeze a boon to some and a detriment to others as the smoke slapped them in the faces. But all in all, a successful night.

As we ended, looking up at the night sky and its stars, with Father Nathan leading the meditation, I remember the thankfulness that I felt as I tried to smile all around at my brothers and sisters. I’d found another home. Another community.

TBC – M

By Heaven’s Sight – Eagle Eye Teen Summer Institute Pt. 1

Despite the timing of our journeys, there is always that part of us that sees them as infinite, spanning time and space as long as they remain fixed in our memories.

This principle is one that I wish to further examine and put into action, as what I have recently survived in Eagle Eye is something I never wish to leave, and rightly so, for Father Nathan himself told us to keep to that ideal.

During the week of June 11, I was thrust out of my old life of madly dashing and lazily sitting around, always alternating between work and sloth, and dropped headfirst into this brilliant experience that I hope will mark me evermore.

The first day, had my old bag, my assumed ability to hike a thousand leagues without tire, and then… not much else to be honest.

The arrival, the introductions, all things to be expected, the experience not proving to be much in my mind. Insignificant, one might say. Now, I enjoyed it immensely, but I didn’t really notice just how much growth would present itself from that moment onward.

I met my roommates, the usual immature (and I mean relative to me of course, because I’m one of the most prideful people I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet) child my own age or younger, and the intriguing males and females who would prove themselves to soon be firm friends.

I don’t remember much of that night. Memories sadly fade for me, even though it was momentous.

Secular songbooks, as Brother Philip called them, did play a big part, for we sang much, led by our fantastic religious and chaperones.

Father Nathan’s words about not looking at what we could get from Eagle Eye, but what we could give of ourselves to make it great… they’re still there. I can still hear some of them now as I write.

There are some things that truly made an impression on me, but alas, those finer points, those little details all have slipped between the cracks.

How I’d love to live it again…

The second and third days became the blur of my mind: The “exhaustion that leads to sanctification” some might say. There was enough pain there to allow my closed off and ultimately deepest stirrings in my heart to rise to the fore.

What have I and will I become? Was the question that I kept asking myself as I trekked those long miles, and finding that I was not as fit as I once was. Back in the day, I was sure that I could have hiked all those miles and more with a large external frame backpack on to boot!

A more superficial thing to be sure, but things that had been tucked away underneath that which is my odd exterior started to show in my mind again. This question constantly prodded me throughout the week until finally I surrendered it in confession and adoration. But we’ll get to that later.

The silence with only occasional speech was perhaps more than I could handle, and I began to fall into a weary pace of listening to my own pounding heartbeat and the more painful plodding of my feet on the dirt ground.

To the end of the retreat, my feet would buzz whenever I stood still only a few minutes. But then… that’s significant.

Led by the fantastic man that Mitchum is, my group of brash swashbucklers and parkour amateurs traversed God’s great creation. The woods were constantly humming with the sound of 17 year cicadas, the birds singing their songs, the sound of brief human conversation.

Again I remember the exhaustion, yet I sensed rather than felt that it was in a different way from when I was part of the outside world. Oh no my sons…

TBC – M

Stories And Satisfaction

So… I’ve officially survived my first semester of college.  As a senior in High School.  That was fun.  Some pretty awesome teachers.  I got lucky.
Took quite a lot of time away from fun activities, but somehow, I still had enough to procrastinate.  Good.  Gravy.

So this whole writing and drawing thing is my way of keeping busy.  The devil likes idle hands, which is like: ARGH!
No lapses, ladies and gentlemen!  “CONSTANT VIGILANCE!”  as I told a friend.  Thank you, Mad-Eye Moody.

Specifically speaking of my writing activities, I’ve mainly been working on a “book” on Upliterate.com.  You know, just advertising it.  It’s a great site, created by one of my family’s friends.  Cool dude.  Don’t know him as well as some of my siblings, but again, cool.
The reason the book is in quotations is firstly because it’s in progress, and it’s… not going with much direction.  I have the beginning and endgame in mind, but writing the in between… that’s the hard part for me.  Making it exciting; making the reader want to keep reading; making compelling character motivations with realistically visual settings, etc. etc.

At any rate, if you want to check it out…
http://upliterate.com/story/60/a-wanderer/

Once I hit a rut in the book or something, I’ll write on Christmas and Christmas preparation!  There’s a lot more beyond the physical that is needed.  Expect that… either this week or next week.  Depends how in-depth I get or how well I stick to a schedule of committed writing 😉

At any rate, expect to hear from me… eventually!

-M

The First Day

Well, here I am, in college, sitting in one of the cafeteria… things.  Bakery Hill, to be exact.  Brilliant place.  Very cozy, well, mostly cozy.  With a first class at 11am, I’ve got quite a bit of time before I need to get anywhere.
I appreciate the fact that my fellow college…. goers… keep to themselves quite a bit, but it’s less lively than I’d like.
I partly feel like moving to a more secluded area, partly like suddenly attempting to joke around with random people.  That part of my psyche, for the sake of my psyche, I shall stifle.

It’s interesting to observe the things happening around me.  A whole range of cultures all together, simply… being.  I think I’ll enjoy the atmosphere.  It’s quite homely, honestly.  Perhaps I shall approach random humans and find my Catholic brethren here.

Anyway, what am I saying…?  Right, the first day!  First days are packed with all sorts of happenings.  First days are when you step, blinking, into this new, distinct world that is high school, college, a job, or lots of other things.  It’s a unique experience, and I think that they’re to be appreciated highly.  Slightly intimidating, but that might just be me.  I was walking around for a good 20 minutes, looking to sit down away from other people, but finally, I settled myself – in complete opposition to my normal routine – in the not quite center of the room.
I’m still here, in fact.

Oh, and now, I have reached the “1 hour and 30 minutes left until the first class” mark.  The anticipation is mounting.  My bag is just sitting here, and I don’t much fancy picking it up again, but whatever.  Twiddling my thumbs, waiting.

~ Time is slipping through my fingers, If I’m not living then I’m losing, losing, The sound of every second passing ~

I’m mostly certain that I saw a Catholic person, which is quite joyous.  And right now I happen to be staring out the window at a prime hangout spot on a stairwell.  I think it’s the south, by the position of the sun, but my calculations tend to be inaccurate.  Slightly inaccurate.

1 hour and 15 now.  English Composition.  English Composition.  English Composition.  That’s when I get to learn how to better structure my writing, because right now, it’s pretty unstructured.  Although that in itself is a structure.  I believe it’s called flow of consciousness.  Modified of course, to fit the needs of a blog post, but yes, this post is less ordered and more chaotic than my others, perhaps due to the fact that I am now in a school environment.

What I want to say about first days is rather short and to the point.  Be excited!  Be ready for a fantastic year, and view it not as a hardship, but as an opportunity.  You’ll meet people, you’ll (hopefully) learn new things, and you’ll have an adventure that will last in your memory.  In a good way, just to clarify.  And if you’re worried, put in the hands of God, and just do your best.  That’s really all you can do.  So just do it (Yeah, I’m referencing that video)!

Well, I’m off now.  Time’s passing by, and I’ve got just a little over half an hour until my class.
“Let’s see what we’re made of.  You… and I.”

-M