In Which I Ask Questions of the Internets.

I did not want to start a blog. The idea made me uncomfortable – not only did blogging mean I had to let other people read what I had written, but it also meant I had to make some semblance of sense.  I thought I had to sell myself, a concept I hated.  I thought I had to tailor the things I wrote to an audience – some unidentified conglomeration of people, people who could reject everything I said or, perhaps more frightening, love everything I said.

I didn’t want to blog at all.

But I’ve realized, throughout this 9-month journey (and if you just tuned in to what you’re reading, no, I am not talking about the 9-month journey you’re thinking of), that blogging is not about other people.  I don’t write for the people who read my poems and thoughts.  I am stunningly blessed and humbled that people do read my thoughts and respond and say kind and amazing things about me and about what I write – but I don’t write it for them.  If I write something for someone, I give it to that person.  But blogging isn’t about me, either.  I do write because it’s part of me; it’s in my bones and my blood and my heart, and I can’t think clearly unless I see my words.  But I don’t blog to sell myself, or to affirm my thoughts, or to seek praise or understanding.  I know that I’m not always clear; I am often abstract and vague and I come up with more questions than answers.  And I know that people read what I write and come up with completely different conclusions than I intended or even thought of – and I love that.  I love that the words I write can mean something different for someone else.  That shows that they aren’t my words in the first place.  It shows that in spite of all that I am, the Lord still uses me.

I’ve come to understand that I wasn’t wary of blogging itself; I was wary of adding something meaningless to the conversation.  You see, I work in the writing center at my university, and one of the big ideas we talk about is writing as conversation.  When a student writes a research paper, she’s adding to this massive academic conversation that has been going on for centuries and will continue to exist long after her paper has decomposed.  In the same way, authors add to conversations about big questions, philosophical ideas, or fairy tale stories.  Writing is just the way we converse across the generations, across the miles, across worlds.  And the internet is part of our world, it’s part of the way we communicate.  But there is so much nothingness to the internet conversation.  Granted, there is an immense amount of thoughtfulness, creativity, and light in this part of our conversation; but there are also piles and piles of empty words to sift through.  Bloggers who buy followers, artists who put their craft second and their fan-base first, individuals who choose to sell mediocre ideas to people rather than invest in the ideas they’re passionate about.  Empty words.  And I didn’t want my words to become empty.

The coolest thing happened.  When I decided to be different, to choose to be who I am and allow God to work in whatever way He wanted, the fear dropped away and I ran out of excuses.  I stopped fearing meaninglessness.  I even got a little better at handling compliments and affirmation and encouragement.  I’m getting there.  My words still feel inadequate – and they should.  My words can never be enough to communicate the vastness of God or the beauty of autumn nights or the fluttery feeling you get in your stomach when you think about the future or the way you’re blessed.  I can’t caption Creation.

But I also can’t let my inability keep me from writing anyway.  No matter how exhausted I might be.

Because here is where my head is now: nine months ago, I didn’t want a blog.  Then I started to write and God worked in me to refocus my heart on Him.  But this semester, things are a bit more challenging.  As part of some of my classes, I am now responsible for three additional blogs, plus this personal one.  Two of the blogs are for a virtual communication class, and one is for an advocacy class.  The virtual communication blogs are very much focused on “selling” ideas, an organization, myself.  Of course, we’re told to go about it in a Christ-centered way – we’re meant to be authentic, relational, quality – all while churning out a high volume of posts, attracting followers, conforming to a short-attention-span culture.  The blog for my advocacy class is less follower-focused, but the concept is still similar: create for your audience.  And everything in me screeches to a halt in protest.  This is everything I didn’t want.

I see huge value in social media as a tool for companies and organizations.  There is definitely an opportunity to use social media to promote ideas and products.  But there is still some wall within me, something telling me that this isn’t right, that it can’t make sense to use my words as tools on one platform and then come back here and let my words be used by the Lord.

Is there a difference?  Am I thinking too much (which is, admittedly, highly probable)?  Maybe there isn’t a delineation.  I know the Lord uses everything, whether the small-c creator is aware of it or not, but I still don’t understand why it seems like it doesn’t line up.  These class blogs are all about learning to be effective online communicators, but there is theory and strategy and some veiled sort of manipulation in that.  And on this blog, I don’t plan or strategize.  I write.  I fall apart on this (metaphorical) paper, or I come back together again.  I ask questions and get lost and find pieces of myself and of God.  Isn’t that effective?  Is “effectiveness” my goal?

This is one of those posts that just has to end.  I could search for answers, but maybe I just need to let my thoughts sit.  I would love to hear yours as well.

This is truly the most un-Courtney-ish blog post I’ve ever written.  I need to write some poems or something.

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Are you still listening?

Time and time again, I promised myself that I would not apologize for what I wrote.  I never wanted to preface everything with disclaimers, and I swore to be honest.  I never wanted this blog to be structured or planned, and though I knew it would never be smart for it to become a journal, I wasn’t about to let it become an agenda, either.  That’s why I rarely read other blogs – so many are so artificial, as if I were walking into a virtual store dedicated to t-shirts and posters bearing the blogger’s face, emblazoned with some kitschy motto.  I didn’t want my words to become a product.  I just wanted them to make sense to someone else.

This blog has become exactly what I envisioned.  It’s real.  This is me, in all my dusty, twisty glory.  The onslaught of poetry in the past few days is the product of some weird sort of soul disease – all these words keep hitting me, at the most random times.  One of my friends told me once that he speaks his poems, then has to write them down as they come.  I thought it was such an odd concept at first.  My poems never came like that; they could only be born on the page.  I couldn’t just think up lines and then build around them.  Stuff just came as a package, you know; fully formed stanzas with a beginning, middle, and end.

But God set something off in me this week.  Last night, I couldn’t sleep because every time I began to drift off, a new line came to me and I had to get up to write it down.  This weekend, I wrote two or three poems every night, one right after the other, even though I have about seventeen million other things I should’ve been doing (like studying for that degree I’m attempting to attain, you know).  A few of them made it here, but many remain tucked away in my journal.  I am grateful for the insight the Lord has been granting me lately (and I’m calling it “insight” in spite of the fact that it feels like “sheer and utter confusion and chaos” …I’m trying to convince myself to change my perspective).  There have been seasons in my life where all I wanted to do was figure it out on paper, but nothing ever came to me, and I didn’t like that feeling.  It felt just as much like a disease as this sometimes feels.  But having too much to say is probably a better burden that not having anything but yearning for something desperately.

This all feels very meta, very disjointed.  I don’t actually think I have a point – the frustrating thing about the Overflowing Words Disease is that I can’t seem to find where I’m going with anything.  Everything ends with a question mark, and I’m having trouble talking through it as well.  Honestly, I think most people think I’m crazy.  I’m blessed to have very tolerant, loving friends who deal with the crazy… but Lord knows what they’re thinking as I ramble on and on.  My darling roommate has put up with so much this past month: me, practically falling into the room at midnight, talking at lightening speed about my confusing days and confusing thoughts.  On and on I go, my speech interrupted only by my own incomprehensible sighs of frustration.  And she sits there, smiling, laughing, letting me explode.  And then she talks, and I laugh at her, because at some point in the middle of the night, we always come to the conclusion that being a college student has got to be the weirdest state of being and there’s no use trying to make sense of it.  I will miss her so much in a couple weeks.  She is one of the few people who sees me at my worst and still finds something good.

I guess I just wanted you all to know that I am in a discovery sort of place in my head and heart right now.  As if you couldn’t already tell :)  There will certainly be more poetry, and I hope you don’t mind it.  This is my place, this silly little blog.  It’s how I’m trying to connect.  As a communications student, I realize what an odd mode of connection the internet really is: me, practically bearing my soul for a bunch of people I don’t even know (and, as I’ve learned recently, many that I do know as well), often without equal reciprocation of soul-bearing.  If we’re going strictly by the textbook, relationships shouldn’t work like this.  Blogs shouldn’t work, because one party is being all open with a bunch of people who aren’t.  But I’m glad theory is less applicable than life.

COMING UP (probably… hopefully…): Camp has been on my mind lately, so I’m in the middle of writing a piece about everything I learned at summer camp and why I credit a large portion of who I am to camp.  And also, why I think every kid should go to camp this summer.  Also, in keeping with the camp theme, I hope to write up another campfire story soon.  Maybe White Gorilla… It is my second-favorite :)

Thanks for listening.

Accomodating an Absurdity.

And I have rehearsed every possible avenue for this in my head.
I’ve gone down the ones with soundtracks
and the one with laugh tracks
and still I don’t know where the path is leading
or why I write scripts for things that don’t happen.
You have inspired in me more poetry than problems but
believe me,
you have inspired a lot of problems.
But I am willing to get in the trains
that lead into the deserts
because Lord knows there must be an oasis.
In my script you are a mirage
and in my mind you might be one too,
but I cling to this foolish expectation of deliverance
because I’m told that is all humans can do.
No one ever wrote about it like this,
no one ever told the truth when they taught the little ones how to see.
There is nothing fun about this,
no twirling in my bones.
Just that sickening removal, like
the feeling you get when the roller coaster starts
but your body takes a moment to catch up.
Only this track might be broken because it never
stops.
It would feel like a lifetime,
then it would feel like nothing.
Be ready for the tearing at the seams
and the fire-forged seal at the middle,
the heart that won’t rip even if you begged it to.
I don’t know why anyone would ever sign up for this.
I will pass out the tickets
for the trains in my head –
I will pay you to remove the rails.
Be warned,
there are no bullet trains here,
no Japanese technological wonders,
no see-Europe-in-a-week packages.
This is the industrial revolution,
slower than Moses
and just as confused as he was, too.
Pry the pen from my reluctant fingers,
pause my words with some sort of reality.
Don’t let me keep making conversations in my head,
ones that lead to nowhere
but keep going long after they reach it.
Tell me something that makes sense.