Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Scraps: A philosophical rambling, a poem, and questions without answers

Often, when a product is finished, there are a lot of leftovers.  The director leaves unneeded scenes lying on the floor.  A painter has too much red on his palette.  A writer has revisions upon revisions upon revisions.  Most of the time, this is done for the greater good of the product.  A movie is shortened and made tighter, saving the viewer from pointless scenes.  Any more red and the painting could have a completely different meaning.  Omitted useless words and phrases save readers from tedious pacing and plotting.

In short, the scraps are made obsolete.  Some would say pointless, but I'd disagree.  Without the scraps, a finished product would likely have a completely different look.  For example, a scene may be removed from a book because it's not working well, but having that scene in at first was crucial to the writer to get to the next point.  It served as a stepping stone that guided imagination and direction.

Ultimately, our life is one product.  When we die, the production stops and we're finished.  No more editing.  No more revising.  It's just us, shipped out to Quality Inspection.  And this train of thought has me thinking about the scraps in our lives.  What kind of stuff is left on our drawing boards?  How many unfinished stories have I written, now sitting idly in a Google Docs warehouse.  How many plans were made and discarded?  And how in the world is this relevant?

What has put me in this mindset?  I found a poem I scribbled down a while ago, just eight lines.  An unfinished thing if there e'er was one.  The first stanza I was insanely proud of.  Clever, methought.  Double meanings and all that stuff.  The second...

in love she fell with a rogue
whose blood was far below hers,
dashed across the jagged rocks
his bowels burst asunder.

ocean's song, an elegy,
the waves a gentle death tune.
she died from an angry blade
wielded by her father.

And there it sat.  There's editing needed.  There's always editing needed.  In life.  In stories.  In paintings.  In blog posts.  We're so concerned about perfection and passing the Quality Control test that we cheat ourselves of so much.  It doesn't help that Society screams for independence and self-reliance.  We must be strong citizens.  We must be productive.

And yet, I posit that most of us aren't able to cut it at being independent.  Not truly.  Still, we desire independence and selfness.  The dichotomy is fascinating.  On one hand, our base instincts are for self-preservation and self-happiness.  We want our opinions to be valued, likely above all others.  We want to be noticed.  We want to be special.  On the other hand, we can't handle the stress of being the sole responsibility of our opinions, and we want others to share that burden.  How selfish is that?  How crazy?

I think of God saying in Genesis 2:18 that it's not good for man to be alone.  Obviously loneliness is a problem if the Creator thinks it is.  But why?  Why is it not good?  (And again, why are my thoughts turned this way?)  Is Man, when left alone, ultimately going to turn to evil? 

[insert clever paragraph that relates scraps and these musings above in a nice, succinct way.  this is a strong first sentence here that uses a nice, simple transition and lays the ground for the next sentence.  this is a complex sentence, with six subjects that all agree with their predicates.  this is a question where i try to understand the previous sentence.  this is a parenthetical, cause why not?  this is the most important sentence i've ever written in my life and what everything really boils down to.  this is an emoticon.]

In the end, this is too much for me to comprehend.  My life is infinitely more complex than I can fathom, with countless causes and effects, affecting both me and you, directly or indirectly.  I'm just thankful that I've been blessed with a loving wife and daughter, a wonderful family, and a great set of friends.  Most of all I'm thankful that Jesus loves me and understands all this stuff I don't.  I'm thankful for the brain He's given me, even though sometimes I wonder about myself. 

When I die and reach the end of production, I want my life to be one that glorifies God.  I want all the scraps to resonate with that glory, that I can look back and see how much He's changed me.  I look back now and see some already, and I look ahead with wonder at what He's gonna do next.


Anonymous said...

such musings must be why i like Art created from found objects. while I know that there is something most definitely organic and original about me, I feel that most of me is created from found objects, the scraps, the discarded, the pared off, and shared parts--because being alone is horrible.

... now you have me rambling off into the byways.

~L (omphaloskepsis)

logankstewart said...

Indeed, L. Indeed. Well said.

Carl V. said...

Great post Logan. I certainly hope that whatever scraps I leave behind in my life also glorify God, and also point to a life well lived and not a bunch of things left undone. I wonder how much of that has to do with whether or not the scraps are all there are or it those scraps are part of a greater whole that includes many finished projects. I know not everything we do in life gets completed, but I hope to be the kind of person who doesn't just start and stop projects and never finished anything, whether the excuse be fear, laziness, distraction, etc.

I don't think man will turn evil when left alone. God created us in His image and He is a being is Love, and that love has to be shared. We have that need in us to be social creatures, to bond with others, and if we are alone too much I think we begin to lose sight of what it means to be human and ultimately what it means to have relationship with our Creator.

logankstewart said...

@Carl: I've held off a response cause I'm just not sure. I suspect that Man is inherently evil and that it's our nature to turn to evil, whether we think so or not. If one could be completely isolated from everyone and left to one's own devices, I think that one would eventually do something to "miss the mark." But I think that's only the case because of the Fall. And yet, I can't fully commit to that, either. Maybe it's because I'm too much of an optimist, but I want to believe that we're not all innately evil.

Gah, now I'm in too deep waters. Thanks for stimulating my brain, friend. ;)

*Of course, the term evil here is all encompassing and not for the general definition of the term. By evil, I suppose I mean sinful or unholy.

Carl V. said...

For me I think the sticking point is the word "evil". For me it always conjures up the very worst images. I think left to our own devices we aren't going to necessarily resort to doing "evil" things. We are going to sin though and man is inherently sinful, being born with a sin nature. But we are going to sin regardless of being alone or with others. I think people who isolate become/are very lonely people and I would imagine that a greater majority of these folks live out a lonely but largely uneventful life vs. turning to heinous acts, which is what I think of, right or wrong, when I see the word "evil". I do truly believe that we are outside of God's perfect will when we are not in relationship with our fellow man. I also think our relationship with God suffers when we don't have relationships with others.

logankstewart said...

@Carl: Absolutely. Fellowship and community are some of the greatest things we can have in life, especially when we can see the beauty of a group of friends coming together to help one another or just to rejoice and have fun. There are too many passages of scripture dealing with others and I can't see how anyone could think outside fellowship isn't important.

Carl V. said...

I would imagine many of the people who isolate have been hurt badly, and it is sad to think that the real cure for that healing that pain has to come from relationship, the very thing that hurt them in the first place.

logankstewart said...

That reminds me of something I read in a parenting book last night. I was reading about divorce (I am a child of such a thing) and how it affects children, especially young ones. Time and time again, and even in most cases of abuse, the children yearn for fellowship with their parents, both of them. This observation is teeming with metaphor and our relationships with one another and with God.

(It also has me thinking about your friend you mentioned on your ROTK post that's spending time in MO away from family. That's awesome that you & your wife are trying to spend some time with him.)

Carl V. said...

I'm sorry about your parents. I hate to hear of relationships that end as I suspect most began thinking that it would last forever. I hadn't ever thought of that but I can imagine that would be so, especially if the child felt relatively close to both parents.

I've had a conversation with a friend once about his difficulties seeing God as "Father" since his own father was so distant and wasn't a part of his life (drug addicted, left him and his mother). That kind of thing makes me all the more determined to try to be a good dad, a good friend, a good husband. We have more than enough bad examples of those roles in the world and I pray that God uses me, and you, as vessels to show that His Fatherhood, His Friendship, His Love is so much more than our pale example.

Mary and I are both convinced that God made those arrangements with the guy from ROTK, so he would have someone to spend some time with, etc. Look forward to him coming back after next week's vacation so that we can hang out a bit.