Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Hold Button

Every day when I turn on my computer, or walk through the check-out line at the grocery store, I am bombarded with well-placed gossip magazines about people that I don’t know.  It’s easy to form opinions about these people based on out-of-context pictures and zinger headlines professing truth without merit.  Take this a step closer, how often do we form opinions about people that we think we know? Do we look at their behavior and form opinions too easily? Do we really know what is going on in their lives, in their heads, or how their experiences have caused them to act in a certain way? Can we dig deeper, look closer, or even step back and not judge at all? We see this in Pages in the Wind, as Emily contemplates the meaning behind an irritable exchange with her brother:

I looked down the hall toward Robby’s room, and thought about his irritation this morning.  He snapped at me for no reason, I was just trying to talk to him.  I sat down at the kitchen table and sighed with resentment thinking about how lucky he is.  He has it all, anointed from birth as the flawless son. Robby has everything; he’s the perfect son, the perfect student, the perfect everything.  I continued to stare down the hall, thinking about the way he looked this morning.  Sometimes I see a crack in his armor, a hint of something in his eyes when he doesn’t know I’m looking.  It looks like fear, an emotion I recognize.  I wonder if being perfect puts too much pressure on him.  As I continued to gaze in the direction of his room, I wondered whether Robby tries to be so perfect, or if he just is perfect.  Either way, I feel uneasy for him although I don’t know why.  I suppose I’m just trying to find a small kink in his perfection, so I can get closer to him, and find the brother that I so desperately want him to be.  

There is more to Robby, which will emerge later in the book.  Emily senses it, but only when she steps back and tries to imagine what it is like to be him.  At the point in which she steps back, judgment is placed on hold.  I know in my own life, I struggle to press the hold-button and step back before reacting to what I see on the surface.  It’s not easy, especially in a society of constant commentary.  I wonder, have you ever felt like you were judged too soon, too easily, and how did that make you feel? Conversely, have you ever wished that you had pressed the hold button and withheld judgment?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Writing On Your Own Canvas

That word control. We hear that word a lot. “He is controlling, I have no control, you’re trying to control me.” Control is a word packed with meaning, often subjective. As children, we have little control as our lives are structured based on societal norms and parental rules.  As we mature, our parents loosen the reigns and we are given more freedom to make our own choices and learn from them.  Of course, that is in an optimal world and a nurturing environment.

I wonder what happens if a child grows up in a hyper-controlled environment, and freedom of choice is not afforded to him.  How does that affect him as he matures? We see this in Pages in the Wind, as Emily, on the threshold of adulthood, ponders her future:

I relaxed into the pillows on my bed and stared at the ceiling, wondering how my life would unfold.  This is my new start.  My eyes spanned the walls and noted that they were freshly painted.  It’s a blank canvas, waiting for life, like me.  That is how I feel, like a new canvas waiting to be painted.  I can leave the last seventeen years behind and start over.  What will life draw on my canvas?

It doesn’t occur to Emily that she can draw on her own canvas.  She is so conditioned to life happening to her, instead of creating her own life.  In a sense, the wall represents her inertia.  Think of a wall, an inanimate structure in which people brush against it leaving a mark, a picture is hung leaving a hole.  In time, the wall shows wear all created by life, by others.  That is how Emily sees herself, at least for now.  Emily is creative and she is passionate, traits that do not flourish in an atmosphere of oppression.  Will she break through the wall and write on her own canvas?
Can you relate to this feeling?