Saturday, January 2, 2010

something Sarah wrote

This is something my friend Sarah wrote, and I couldn't agree with her any more.

"Maybe I'll run away. To another country. The immaturity in me wants to deal with my hatred of consumerism by escaping it, wants to shirk the guilt I feel for American pettiness by disassociating myself from the whole system. When I was a kid, I prayed that God would send me to Narnia even though I knew it was all fiction. He was all-powerful; He could make it real for me and send me there, just for a minute or two of earth time. I promised it would be beneficial to Him because, like the Pevensies, I would know Him better through my interactions with Aslan. I'm nineteen and I still haven't grown out of that because I tell myself I can find the mysterious land I've always loved by flying across a border or two.

Many of His teachings make no sense to me, but I know exactly what He meant when He said we'd be foreigners. I know what it is to be homesick for a place I've never seen, remembering customs I've never imagined.

Maybe I'll hide for a while. Live by myself in a field. I'll be dreadfully lonely, but I will reach it: I will exist for existence. No one will know what I am doing or what I look like. I will not know what anyone is doing or what anyone looks like. And I will not have to meet anyone's standard. And I will not despise myself for not equaling someone else's grandeur. I will not do something because it will make a good story or please someone. I will discover what it is that I like to do for the sake of doing it. I will talk (I will shout!) with the wind without bundling my words in social graces and unspoken messages. I will live and not just act.

I think it's wrong to judge people based on what music they listen to. We don't judge people for enjoying McDonald's fries once in a while, but we think ourselves entitled to berate them for singing along to any style not refined enough for our superior tastes. Why don't we love our music for its own sake? I should be able to enjoy my music without feeling the need to hide it, brag about it, or mention it at all. If I truly like my music, I don't have to compare it to yours to make me feel good about the fact that I am listening to it.

Dear Everyone,
You are not the music you listen to.

And you were unanimously voted the best musical critic of your own ipod. It doesn't matter how many millions have defined their lives by the Beatles if you just don't like the Beatles. It's your right not to like the Beatles and not to be ashamed of that. (It's your friends' right not to be ashamed of liking the Beatles, either, so don't hate.) Yeah, it's true: I'm a musical relativist. I'm sick of the prejudice we throw at beautiful people because God made their ears in different shapes than ours.

(Dear Parents,
I'm sorry for criticizing your music.

(I still don't like it. Personally.))

I don't think facebook profiles should include our favorite music, TV shows, movies, and books in the one-page summaries of ourselves. That has nothing to do with us! At best, it shows some of the ideas we agree with, particularly in the books department. But usually it only proves that we exist to consume the mainstream junk food mass-produced to give us something to measure ourselves by (or obscure music and movies, if we long to be defined as free spirits). Yes, the style of clothing covering the body does tell you something about the person beneath, but it! is! not! the! person! What does a jacket have to do with the lungs, with the heart, with the kidneys quivering within? What does a synthesized beat have to do with what you daydream about or how you respond to rude supermarket employees?

I think it's wrong to judge people based on their grammar too. I used to correct grammar in conversations, and I'm sorry: I was being a jerk. I don't even care anymore if my own grammar is flawless unless I'm writing something serious; I think people should have the freedom to talk to one another without having to sound perfect all the time. Grammar is tricky; it's like calculus. Some people have struggled their way through algebra, others still can't add, and no one but Grammar Girl has mastered every equation. In my opinion, it is writers' responsibility to learn their language and companies' responsibility to hire editors who already have. But the people themselves, the speakers of the language, are more than the competence of their high school English teachers. I promise you they know something you don't, whether it's programming computers, fixing car engines, or making crabby toddlers smile. What makes your area of expertise loftier than theirs?

I want to paint a picture just because it's a wonderful picture in my head, and I want to love it with all my heart no matter how it turns out. Art is probably my biggest insecurity. Before I graduated, I refused to even minor in art simply because I wasn't as good as other artists I knew. I told my friend this, and she was so adamant that I study art that she screamed her first curse word at me. She was right: I am an artist. Not because I am half as good as half my friends but because sometimes just thinking about painting makes me so happy that my ears wiggle. And I need to be true to that; as long as I'm painting bland pictures because they look somewhat like other people's pictures, I'm hardly painting at all. I need to stop painting as if every canvas is a competition and just let my hands create what they will, with joy.

Do you love me more or less for writing this? For posting it so publicly? For admitting weaknesses you share or you despise? For confessing that some of my music is utterly uncool and then turning my nose up at your upturned nose?

The whole point of this is: I don't care, I won't care, I won't care, I won't care."

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