It’s hard for me to believe, after around 7 months, I am calling Los Angeles ‘home’ after being back ‘home’ in Colorado… and it’s even harder to believe that ‘home,’ to me, has transcended the constrictive walls of my original definition. I wandered the streets of Ouray on Christmas night… the only one moving at the hour of 2:00 am, where I would have been one of many stirring souls in Los Angeles at the same hour. I feel as if I awoke from a dream; when I was in Ouray, I couldn’t decide if it really felt like forever or simply yesterday I crossed paths with the frequenters of my familiar town. Upon returning to the bustling streets of Los Angeles, it felt like my definition of ‘home’, begin to dissipate all the more. It’s now, in the beginnings of this new year, that I realize how much our world is ruled by definition, and how truly empty those definitions are; a label we place on something to fit it into the slot of our understanding, a measurable reference point… thinking if we only ‘understood’… then maybe… just maybe… we wouldn’t fear it.
In my time of being in Ouray, I remember spending one interval of time, which lasted a little less than a five minutes, with my grandmother in the kitchen. In that exchange, I felt something shift, and I grabbed her hand and wept. She said something to me that hit me beyond the profoundness found merely in words. She said, “We won’t be apart. We have eternity.” There have been a handful of moments where I felt every part of me moving that I could only hold still; me, as in the terms of who I am contained in this body, moving, but me, as in what others see, feeling completely paralyzed. At that very collision, tears erupted; like a reaction to my body not catching up with the ‘me’ it contains. It’s in moments like this that I feel a sense of closeness beyond measurable, tangible, physical distance. We are all desperately trying to push past the boundaries of our shells of bone and tissue to have a closeness with one another of heart and soul… and sufficiently love through a love that is simply insufficient. Our levels of expression cannot be accurately leveled at their most expressed states; they rest inaudible, unexpressed, ineffable; vestigial particles desperately attempting to form something beyond their capabilities. Yet, for some of us, we attempt…and attempt… and keep attempting. These attempts grow from inspiration to pursue something beyond what is perceptible to the senses; to create a bridge of communication and understanding. Then something beautiful happens; words are formed… music is formed… art is formed….interaction is formed… life is formed… and they are all expressing something beyond what could be defined, it’s beyond labels… beyond. There are those who communicate about their art, and then there are those who create art to communicate; trying to break what seems as fragile as an eggshell at times, but, other times, a dense enclosure; the container, the body, keeping us living in this world, yet the biggest obstacle within it. It’s a sort of frustration, a growing pain, that can drive us to become inspired and into imaginative creativity. The word “Inspiration” translates to “breathed upon”; we realize that what we are doing is more than conjuring up a firing of one neuron to another, causing muscles to move a paintbrush, to bring vocal cords together and sound… we are creating, we are breathing into something; breathing beyond the physical definition of breathing… communicating beyond words. It’s a realization that our means of traditional communication in our physical bodies cannot catch up to the metaphysical reality of who we are beyond them. Oh, but when that barrier is broken, between ‘me’ and me; like traveling at such high speeds and breaking the sound barrier, that’s where one breaks the label barrier.
Lack of physical proximity often becomes a place of longing, determined by time and how long we stay around the presence of another person before packing up again. Yet, five minutes of irreplaceable interaction between souls becomes more valuable than years of proximal company of bodies on a map. Even the definition of ‘company’ begins to rearrange its structure; is company standing by someone? I’ll place myself here, and you there… a measurable distance away from me. Or is it the closeness that crosses beyond the measurable, the definable, to something more? Could we never be apart?
Definitions take rule over this world. ‘Home’ becomes a place our physical bodies stake their claim of residency on a map, yet many don’t ever have that feeling of ‘belonging’ somewhere. We venture away from home to try to find home. We define time to tell us when to begin resolutions, yet we pass the time to forget that time passes. We work to make an income in order to live, but our work consumes our lives. We desperately try to document our lives through social media, and let it consume us from really living. Often we condemn others because we see our own blemished faults reflected in the most innocent mirrors of their souls. We can become so consumed in the concept of being free, that we can become caged and enslaved by our own freedom; becoming stagnant because we are free to choose stagnancy. Then, what’s more, we become caged in rage because we are angry about our lack of freedom… creating the very entrapment from the very thing we struggle to protect. This is our attempts at social survival. You can find it all, readily available, like a sort of unspokenly over-spoken “handbook” which seems to have the most authors you’ll encounter in the everyday, but with the need to ‘survive’ overshadowing oxymoronic undertones taking presidence over truth. ‘Who you are in relation to me,’ takes priority over truth, leaving everything we do subject to another person’s interpretation. Interpreting and defining, whether consciously or subconsciously, leaves even the most heartfelt of pursuits malleable clay in the minds of our everyday interpreters. We say one thing, it enters the ears of our peers, translated through the vast factory of their personal and past experiences, and can become processed, instead of the original, raw, pure state in which we intended to delivery it. Sometimes our very lives speak louder than truth. Social echo-location reigns over real communication; it’s a process where we say something to bounce it off the environment of someone’s being, their soul, letting what we sound return to us, and gaining back information as to the shape of it, how we can navigate in our interactions with this person. Though this can be basic interaction, such feedback can cause us to alter our true selves to maintain communication, or take on the form of an attack, leaving another in beleaguered ruin in our attempts to assert a false identity and a higher position over them within the social food chain. We perform all of these things to desperately claw our way out of the pit of our own existence. It’s when the true parts of our beings become sacrificed in order to survive that our very definition of ourselves becomes skewed. If we do not know who we truly are, it’s at that moment that even such utterances of “love” can lose their true purpose. Love does not say, “I love you, do you love me too?” Our utterances can be empty; taking on the form of a social Geiger counter, looking for readings to affirm who we are… or who we think we are… rather than a testament of truth. There is no need to define love based on the feedback we receive from the recipient of such words… it’s simply, “I love you.” Such love is immeasurable. Yet, we, as people, continue to attempt and measure, and succumb to the rule of strictly definition.
So, what lies beyond the label of ‘home’? What lies beyond the label of ‘me’? What are the lies that lie beyond the truth of me? What do I expect to accomplish when everything I could ever want to express through love falls to the wayside as insufficient? Why do I feel that every inch of measurable, definable space around me, even between Colorado and California for that matter, is not really home?
I came to California 7, almost 8, months ago to simply deliver forged wedding rings, which, in and of themselves are elements spanning past definition. Even rings hold more than what they are defined to be be, or, rather, what they are ‘seen’ to be when placed within the context of their purpose as wedding rings. Does placing wedding rings on two people’s fingers make them married? Does the absence of a wedding ring, after marriage, make one not married? The wedding rings themselves are not what makes a marriage or not, but are the elements which makes such unity definable to the realm of our physical reality. Therefore, the very thing that started a journey in my life was the creation of something tangible to bring definition to a bond, and a unity, that would have remained present even without it. Marriage is the concept, but rings are that definable ‘proof’ of its existence.
The tangible can be a beautiful thing; in making the rings, I realized that the process of forging them was so symbolic of what they represented; down to the very fact that the stone of the ring was a sapphire, a stone able to resist immense heat without breaking. The ring itself is connected without ceasing, is infinite in its structure; without beginning or end… and represents a unity that is so very present in what should be, in an ideal situation, within a marriage. Our bodies are examples of such tangible beauty. At the roots of our very composition, we find relationship thrives in our bodies: bones and muscles work together to bring movement within a body; and this very unity thrives within our very function. Of course, such symbolism is based on perception, in and of itself, but maybe its integrated in us to live a certain way that accepts things for how they are most commonly defined, how they appear, or how they are measured… and not see beyond such labels. Creative imagination, in and of itself, has no precursors, and cannot be measured. It’s the anatomy of ourselves that makes us tangible to the world, but the anatomy of who we are inside of these vessels is what spans beyond the notes of even the most brilliant of psychologists; its beyond measurements.
In much the same way, our world needs something tangible to see, touch, or interact with, in some form or another, in order for us to define it for what it is, or even what it isn’t. ‘Home’, by my own definition, is not just a place of measurable placement, where our bodies are pinned on this world map. I could be in Ouray, or Los Angeles, and not be ‘home’… they are tangible, physical environments in which I can interact, but ‘home’ goes beyond the physical environment. I say all of this not as a pitiful cry to find more than a mediocre mondanity in my surroundings, I say it because I believe there is much more, far past our definitions of the seemingly obvious, definable, physical world.
We go about basic human interaction everyday with our interpreting antennae in the anthill of our society. However, the fallible nature of the world also comes from the compulsive need to define and categorize our surroundings in order to establish a hierarchy; a scale system we use to place ourselves within in order to find our place, our home, our identity. When something does not fit within this self-invented hierarchy, something that surpasses our understanding, a desperate need to categorize can take over, welcoming alterations of a piece just so it will fit in a puzzle… even if it’s in a place unintended for that particular piece to fit. In this way, many will take a Vermeer and turn it into a Polluck; painting over something’s intention, something’s identity, to make it understandable, to make it definable. Suddenly, many find themselves wearing the facade of another character in order to even function within the puzzling placements of their environments. People will carry the character of who they are, along with the reality of who they are, like wearing a mask to fit in with the grand masquerade of the day-to-day; It’s not about who you really are, it’s the tangibility of it; what people see, hear, touch, etc. This is why this world has been consumed with appearances of all kinds rather than letting the real person they carry be known; it would be a real ‘shame’ to live as who we are, and change the taxonomy beyond tangibility.
Even as I sit here: location: Universal City, Los Angeles, sipping my green tea, text hangs on the tag attached to the string of the tea bag, a quote from Henri Paul Gauguin (1848 – 1908) whom I recognized as the French Post-Impressionist artist… not appreciated for his art until after his death. The quote simply states:
“I shut my eyes in order to see.”
Such a quote delves into the depths of this concept; that there is more than one way to ‘see’ past our senses; to ‘see’ with merely our eyes… that is the physical definition… there is something past our eyes, past time, past placement. When we stop categorizing, and we break past the label barrier, breaking through the walls of our mere, measurable knowledge and every one of our senses, there is a beauty beyond it. As we break through it, we find who we are at the most pure form of our identity; we find a truth in what was always there rather than obtaining a facade through something definable. We find love beyond the seen… beyond the touchable… beyond the audible… beyond every phonemic syllable of even the most eloquent words… beyond these tangible forms, these bodies, these vessels… just as we find home beyond these bodies’ tangible placements. If the very definition of “home” rearranges its structure, then we can see that we can live, breath, and even carry this place. Just as our physical bodies are mere vessels of our true selves, everything we create are vessels ready to be ‘breathed upon.’ We carry ‘home’ like a supernatural atmosphere that bridges into the physical atmosphere, capable of transforming it. It then becomes apparent that, if we live in that place, we can breath from it, and ‘breath upon’ whatever we create. Suddenly, that breath, that life, is integrated into our words, our music, our art as they become vessels, crossing into our physical reality and carrying cargo from beyond its bounds. We live, we breath, beyond just our bodies. We go past everything temporal, and we find something that exceeds it.
To experience the physical part of interactions that my body can contain through its five senses was one thing; even being in the physical environment of Ouray, hugging my family, and grasping my grandmother’s hand were all part of bridging that gap of a once proximity separation, but there is so much more than that. What is at the roots of such interaction is deeper than just those bridges of touch, sight, and any of the senses. It’s that love. It’s that we have eternity because such love knows no bounds of this realm… that it reaches beyond our very definitions… that it’s something immeasurable, enduring, immutable, even existing outside the relation of time and physical placement.
Often, we try to take something spanning past the physical, and make it fit within the labels of our understanding. It’s then that the temporal elements attempt to take rule over something so absolutely, metaphysically eternal. We see Love… we see The Eternal… we even see God. If God is Love, and God goes beyond measurable definition, then I want to live in a Love that transcends what my love can offer this world; I want to live in a place beyond this world; beyond definable, measurable, interpretable, containable, insufficient… beyond feared. I don’t want to just live by the definition of this world; existing through my breath alone, I want to live to ‘breath upon’… I want to live ‘breathed upon.’
That place: Home… is more than a place where this body of mine meets a body of land, its beyond tangible form; transcendent… a reality beyond what is perceptible to the feedback of the physical senses. It is beyond definition. It is eternal.
Love is an action. Love is a noun. Love is a place.
Love is that eternal home.
We will never be apart.
I am home.
What an adventure it has been. Months of travel and meeting a vast array of individuals, and I am seeping into the desire as a voyager of this world, but a cartographer of areas of the heart and that which goes beyond what is simply seen with one’s eyes. I don’t want to chart simply travels of where this fragile, maladroit container of a body is placed within the scape of this physical world; I am “here” and you are “there”… No, I want to seek the depths of something more. I grow weary from the numbed desire of this society to see something mass-produced and quickly-imitated instead of seeing value in the carefully-crafted. It has become such the ‘norm’ to create a mimicked feeling quickly, that value becomes more placed in the feelings one has as an immediate reaction to something… rather than for the creation itself. It makes sense, then, how our very definitions of what is created, what is explored, and even what is loved can be drastically altered to please an empty, fleeting desire, rather than a lasting expression that carries real substance. I want to be a willing vessel, placing value in what I carry; my cargo, rather than a woebegone ship, aimlessly sailing along, pillaging to try and fill its every cobwebbed corner, and living only by the ‘someday’ prospect destination of treasure. I have learned more and more through these travels that our awareness is, perhaps, the most limited. One can be blissfully unaware of even our own structure; our limbs, our phalanges, our every composed piece… unless someone touches that part of our being; and our brains suddenly transcribe the information: “Yes, what I am feeling is this extension of who I am… this person is touching my head… and I am suddenly very aware I have one.” Perhaps what is more important than a destination, or even a charting of where I am in relation to you within this vast physical space, is where and how that awareness rests. I want more than a pin in a map, a photograph or two of an adventure to prove it happened, something more than a handshake… those things that only, limitedly, acknowledge that I am “here” and you are “there” within this space. I want awareness of it all beyond my limited, physical container; I don’t want to feel just to feel something. I want my interactions with this world, all the beautiful pieces it contains, what is beyond it… what is created, what is explored, and what is loved…and the Creator of it all, to reach out and touch my soul… and make me suddenly very aware I have one.
Happy 32nd Birthday, to my beautiful sister, loving mother, and extraordinary person: Brie.
Your heart is still beating. I feel, with every poignant, pressing beat, a person speaking your name. Your children are beautiful… they thrive and play in a way I can only hope to share with the world. No wonder you always had a camera in hand to document their every move. I only wish feelings could be transported from person to person as easily as images are documented. I show a picture of your children to others and say, “These are my nieces… and this is my nephew”… but… oh, how I wish I could encompass into words what they so easily place in my heart! They say pictures are worth “1,000 words,” but every one of those words falls short, dear Sister… every last one… in explaining what is felt. Pictures are taken not just for our desire to reminisce, but to share with others. Every moment I spend with Mali, Eleri, and Curren I save… I place these feelings in my heart, and take them out from time to time to reflect upon them. The laughs of Mali and Eleri… the gentle weight of Curren in my arms… I feel it. However, such feeling can only be shared through an attempt in spreading it to others, which I know you did, and still do… and which is why your children continue to do so.
I was considering the word “vessel” the other day… and I realized that it was one word that unexpectedly explained so much of your life, and all that surrounds it. You see, “vessel” is a homonym that can mean a ship, a part of our circulatory system, a container… in layman’s terms, it is something, or someone, that encompasses something. You, Sis, are a vessel. You were a vessel for your children, brought into this world in your womb. You were a vessel, carrying the very love of God. Your body was a vessel of life, giving your organs so others may live. They say people who have had organ transplants take on traits of the people who had them before, and I know that those who have yours must be blessed beyond their measure to a have a part of you in more than one area of their lives. The vessels inside you carried blood from your heart to operate every intricate operation your physical body carried out on this earth… but was contained in this vessel, this beautiful person we all miss, was even greater. For in this vessel of Brie, was a soul that is not bound like an anchor to its vessel, and a true love that knows no such containment.
Your daughters are gorgeous. I catch myself seeing glimpses of you in them often. They are living photographs, documentation of everything that you are. Like tiny vessels, they carry your love freely.
Your son is inspirational. He is only a little over a year old, and it is already evident that he has a very caring spirit. He has taught me more on his year on earth, than many who have spent decades here.
Happy Birthday, Brie Michelle. Your body a vessel… Your soul beyond it. Your message true. Like messages in a bottle, we, the vessels who were touched by the story of your life, can carry it with us. The love you gave me, emotional snapshots in my heart, I keep them locked away there… and take them out from time to time to reminisce, but, even more so, in an attempt to share them with others.
Let only praises ring with every shout from my mouth… let me proclaim this life and LIVE. Oh, yes, LIVE like you showed you could. Let me be a mere vessel of the love you have carried to me… and so many others. Happy Birthday, dear sister of mine… I miss you more than ever, but I am comforted that your presence is still ever present.
22! Wow… I can’t believe I have reached this age already. Every age in which I find myself thrown seems another time of questioning if I really even feel that age. I find myself an utter paradox in and of itself to the whole scape of age. I say this with the upmost humble tone… for I am not one to pat myself on the back and say, “Congratulations, Zina… you are a paradox! What a cool and hip title… I think I will change my email to something using it like ‘paradox22ZLahr3000workingtitle@zmail.com’” No… this is strictly an observation. What is a paradox but a contradiction to logic? Yet, where does logic stand without the contrast of complete absurdity? I digress. Here I am writing a blog post (which I feel was about time to do since it has been over a year of rebuilding myself since my last post here), which will also be a Facebook status, and adhering to every desire of social networking that so many of us, the egocentric beings that we are, seem to enjoy. Yet, I do so to ease my mind of the crowded thoughts that seem to be restrained by the confines of its walls. I am 22 years old now. Time is such a strange absurd piece of logic to me. Okay, so there is this system called “time” and it has been documented as starting with seven days, and it starts with light. “Let There Be Light,” as it reads… yet so many of us find, so many of the seven days that are established in series known as “weeks” following such documented creation, ourselves to still be in complete darkness. Then there are 24 hours in a day. My days do not run like most. I find myself lucky if I sleep at all. This is not to lament in the least, but to simply state fact. My nights usually consist of me working on some project… because I am afraid to sleep. I have unusual dreams based on both the real and the imaginary… and they are usually highly detailed. I say this not to complain, or write a “poor me” statement, but to document. Because of this state of mind, I often find myself in a surrealistic environment of my own reality… which I both love and hate at the same time… depending on the dreams instilled. Outside of dreams and into more reality, I have learned that time is an interesting gage of what is expected in order to be an adult. To be an adult, I have learned several things from different sources questioning my choice of lifestyle: being an “adult” surrounds the concept of laughing at anything deemed childish, doing adult ‘stuffs’ like listening to smooth jazz, talking about the news, and finding the weather channel actually interesting. I say this without judgment, but with sincerity that this has been what I have been told is expected of someone of an adult status that I should likely possess. I mean, I can carry a conversation about the news, I have listened to smooth jazz… on the weather channel ironically enough (killed two birds with one stone on that adult meter!)… and I do find myself struggling to be at least somewhat adult-like. But adulthood also surrounds a lot of “nots”: when you are an adult, you are not to play with toys, dress in costumes, or build blanket forts. Nope. Not. Negatory. There seems to be this understanding of time that we are to follow this strict system of giving up the old and embracing only the new mentality. Now, I am not saying that one mustn’t act their age. I believe that people should exude the level of maturity when dealing with the world and the responsibilities that it impresses upon us… but how can we define ourselves as “mature” when we throw away all that we had established as children for only the new ‘adult’ ways of living? C.S. Lewis realized this, and said it best, when he said, “The modern view seems to me to involve a false conception of growth. They accuse us of arrested development because we have not lost a taste we had in childhood. But surely arrested development consists not in refusing to lose old things but in failing to add new things.” Our sense of time is associated directly with an established growth chart, yet we are throwing away old interests and enjoyment instead of adding to them. Time then seems to, in this mindset, award a special merit for those who have the most time notches on their belt. You are older? Oh, then you must clearly know more about the world. If you are an adult, that means you can judge anyone you like. It means you can tell them how to live their lives. I have been around children who do this, but they will automatically be scolded for such statements and marked up as childish banter… yet adults do the exact same thing… and put down adults who uphold things they loved as children and still love today. You can call people names and point fingers like the playground chastising of your past childhood, but you can’t, God forbid, build a blanket fort. My three-year-old niece says more mature things than a lot of adults I know… yet age, based in time, is often a factor in credibility.
Time also governs our world so much. I realize I have to adhere to its system in order survive this world and all its expectations… and I am not stating a superior knowledge in such things, but I do find some of our own systems based in it to be often very limited. Where does the time go…. where does the time go… where does the time make us go… Yet, I encourage people to fight expectations based in age or what-have-you… because I believe, and I will be as bold to say I have determined this in my 22 years on this earth, that maturity rests in the ability to find not repulsion for such childhood taste in favor of obtaining that of the more adult, but an equilibrium of the two. I would probably not give advice in the voice of Scooby Doo to a struggling friend, but I would use it to voice the Scooby Doo doll of my nieces publicly without reserves.
Birthdays are an interesting thing for me because they are about receiving these gifts. I love the thought that goes into gifts, and I have saved every single card I have ever been given… ever. I love reading and re-reading them knowing that someone took the time to write such a thing for me… it makes me feel so very blessed. However, when we receive the gifts of our talents and interests we will usually, often based on the very time/growth chart previously discussed, either keep the gifts ourselves or frantically search for a receipt so we may return them immediately. We are given gifts throughout our time on this earth, and there is nothing greater than to embrace them, while giving through them to help others. You can’t give something you’ve thrown away.
Time has not always been on my side in this past year. 21 was a difficult year of rebuilding. 20 was when tragedy struck, and time stopped for me. I fell stagnant to a broken heart… in multiple areas… but the greatest was the loss of my sister Brie. Brie taught me so much about how to spend time wisely: she gave hers freely… as well as her gifts. Her presence was present enough to many… and it continues to give even with her absence on this earth. I would be lying if I said she does not cross my mind every day, but particularly on my birthday. I fell asleep on a rare occasion the night before my birthday for a good while and dreamed she called me… I miss her so much. It is times like these where I wish I had a time machine. I wish I could go back, but I know that time progresses forward even still. There is no way to freeze it… we just have to strive to embrace every moment and everything that composes that moment. I try to do this when I talk with my friends, hold my grandmother’s hand… or embrace my family. Time is too short and unpredictable not to strive to love in every moment of it. My friends have done just that for me tremendously in my year of being 21… and even prior…and into my turning of 22. I can’t even begin to explain how much the love all of my friends and the people in my life have given me and my family. My faith is only strengthened in seeing the care people put into their interactions with me. My family, my Mom and Grandma, are beautiful hearts that never cease to give. My brother Brandon and his wife Liza are both incredible talents and love without bounds. My brother Stosch and I are so similar… and he never ceases to amaze me. All my siblings, whether I have seen them recently or long ago, are all so dear to me. My brother-in-law Eric inspires me with his strength… and I have so much respect for him. I made so many lifelong friends when I started working on Stikfas… these customizable toys… when I was only 13. I have known these individuals for years, but have only seen them a handful of times… yet I know they will be my lifelong friends. I met some of the most amazing individuals at a local coffee shop called Mouse’s Chocolates. All of the workers here have touched my life in different ways… and have truly reached out and helped me in ways I never even saw possible. My friend Lizzy Ficco, and her beautiful family, have shared so much with me, and her presence in my life has truly been a gift. My friends like Jeff Skoloda, at the welding shop, have encouraged me and taught me so much. My dear friends involved with Light Gives Heat and the film “Moving On,” Dave and Morgan Hansow, their family, the whole crew for Interpret Studios, Patrick Maxcy, the Payne family, all of the interns, everyone involved with LGH have touched me with their love for others, and have continued to inspire me daily. Austin and Miya Blasingame changed my perspective on this world immensely… as did Joseph Perrenoud and Drea Williams… who I met at Austin and Miya’s wedding, but visited me here in Ouray. These people know how to go beyond the expectations of this life… and are truly exceptional. The Clarin family has left a significant impact on my heart as well. Caleb Jacobs and his family have been excellent friends amidst heartache as well. Everyone tagged in this note, you have made an impact in my life. One of my best friends, Rais Clarin, passed away in the same year I lost my sister… and Ome and her children have been family to me in such a significant way. I found a card Rais gave me for one of my past birthdays… and was reminded of how much he loved… and how much he continues to change my life. Many would say that people who leave this world had their time ‘run up’… but I say that they just found a way to go beyond it. The Clarin family and I have experienced similar trials, yes, but we have also experienced similar joys in knowing each other. That family is one of the greatest examples of love I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Barb Sever is also one of these people who has lost so much, but has given so much as well. Then there are people like my dear friend Jim Frank… who I never thought I would meet… that have the same interests, and have filled places in my heart I thought could never be filled. I met him because of my goggles… and he has been such a significant part of my life already. We have built a trebuchet, forged weaponry, and created mass explosions… and I have enjoyed every minute of it! Everyone in my life, back when I was doing lights for various bands, in every place I have worked, in every moment of my day to day life, have made an impact on me. I meet people by chance on the streets, on trains, in stores… and they impact my life immensely. However, perhaps the most unexpected inspiration came from the tiniest of packages of my nieces Mali and Eleri… and my nephew Curren. These tiny ones have made a big impact on who I am… and are an example of how time and age do not matter in comparison to what that time, even if it is short, can contain.
I had this moment at my birthday party where I looked around the room and saw everyone interacting… and was so contented to know that these incredible people are in my life. These incredible people are sharing time with a tesla coil and releasing helium jellyfish with me into the sky… and watching “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” with me. All of them I know in different ways, but we have been placed in each others lives by some miracle… and to even begin to fathom the workings of such placement goes beyond anything I can ever imagine. I can tell where and how I have met each of them, but what goes beyond explanation, is how they have reached me. I would have never guessed I would be in such a place in my life, but I am very glad, in many ways, that I am. I was in darkness so much, but then all of this unexpected light was brought into my life… and I couldn’t be more content in that. Time has been an enemy and a friend, but, regardless, it has shaped me into who I am today. Time should not be based in a hierarchy format of mere expectation, but should be there so we may learn to go beyond it. Go beyond expectations. Go beyond the confines of this world. Go beyond ourselves. I want to go beyond me. I want a life that does not reflect stagnancy, that does not fall victim to time, does not fall victim to expectation… that embraces the old with the new. I want to be there for others, throughout this life of mine, in a way that I have seen others be there for me and my family.
Time is not going to control my life expectancies… but my choices will determine the results of my time here in this world. Perhaps, we should use our time in embracing who we truly are, without the expectations of who we should be through time. I am Zina… and I build robots, wear goggles, dress in costumes, play with toys, drink root beer at bars, I am probably one of the most straight-edge people you know, and I build blanket forts (tips hat to Dusty 🙂 ). I may not be able to build a time machine, but I have found that we, ourselves, are our own time machines… the basic thread in every place we have been, every person who has interacted with us, and everything we have enjoyed, loved, and learned. I am glad I have taken the time to know who I am, and I will have nothing but respect for those who know themselves… and embrace who they are. Time should be allotted to learn of such things through every experience it gives us. Loss has further instilled in me the desire to give. Embracing what is deemed ‘absurd’ has given me more insight into logic. Darkness has given me appreciation in light. A delicate heart has given me a hidden strength. Time continues to build us through contrast, we just have to determine how we are built. This is how I want to spend my time… and I am ready for another year of striving to do so. Thank you to everyone in this life of mine! I love you all! ❤
Typing has proved more difficult… as has other such tasks such as writing, drawing, and opening a certain type/shape of doorknob. For those of you who don’t know… I recently injured my right index finger… well… I did so a few days… perhaps weeks ago, I cannot really keep track of what day it is anymore. It was shut in a car door while visiting my nieces. I was bleeding profusely… and rushed into the house, but stopping to say hello to Eleri and Mali as they excitedly shouted, “Aunt Zina!” as I said “Hey girls! Aunt Zina is going to go in the kitchen and she will be right back!” As I rushed into the kitchen, I ran cold water over it as I grabbed a local rag, and used it as a gag to muffle a scream of utter pain. I felt faint… I actually felt like I was going to pass out… staggering to a table, falling upon it, and crying. I do not usually cry at physical pain. Emotional pain… yes…. physical pain… no. This is because I am actually a quite frail individual who tends to bruise rather easily. I get hurt in my own house almost daily. What’s more, is that I do not become faint at the sight of blood. I am actually quite accustomed to it… I am a fan of zombie movies… so I could take that. I think it was from the pain. Well, my mom decided we had to splint it. Eleri helped me eat a Popsicle so we could use the sticks from it (it was a double Popsicle)… so she really ‘took one for the team’ to help Aunt Zina… which I’m sure was her intention as she happily munched on its orange goodness. Well, my finger splinted, I went for a few days, being back in Colorado, until I could feel some horrific pain from it, which caused me to run outside, gather snow, and dunk it in the snow. The pain was much like a “Tom and Jerry” cartoon where Jerry promptly smashes Tom’s hand (or perhaps, for the sake of this example: finger) and it throbs at an exaggerated size and red color. This was exactly how my finger felt.
I did not sleep at all this night. I was rushed to the ER the next day where they drilled two tiny holes in my finger nail to release the pressure. The rest is rather grotesque… so, I will spare those details. So, now, I suffered with a giant finger for days… and it seems to just now be making some improvement. For days it looked as if a rather old, perhaps crotchety, fat troll took my finger in my sleep and replaced it with his. Or, perhaps a scene from “Evil Dead 2” in which my finger is bitten by the dead themselves.
This is a ‘Finger Diary’ from the first day of the injury to where it is today, documenting the main changes in it. A few nights ago, I babysat the daughter of my welding mentor (Jeff Skoloda): Ella, and she decided to ‘fix’ my finger with a Perry the Platypus band-aid from the animated show “Phineas and Ferb.”
I am awaiting the nail to fall off, but some local women told me that they thought I would lose the tip of my finger. This had not occurred to me, and, rather than be upset, I considered what I could replace it with… perhaps an LED light/flashlight… a screwdriver… or even, perhaps the most useless: a thimble. Maybe all of the above… like this:
In all honesty, I had grown rather tired of my finger and hated all the pain that went with it. Through the strange discussion I had with these women, I remembered one of my favorite quotes, one which I hope to explore further in the future through an animation: “The man who looks for security, even in the mind, is like a man who would chop off his limbs in order to have artificial ones, which will give him no pain or trouble.” – Henry Miller
The reason why I delved so deeply into my painful story of my smashed finger is not to conjure up some sympathy, tell jokes, or even to share/compare wounds like vikings discussing their last battle. No… this is to simply to describe, using this visual, something that became quite clear to me. Emotional pain takes its toll on us in much the same way… and it is that throbbing, consistent reminder that leaves us with options in order to treat it. Some of us would be prone to ignore it… but then it just becomes worse… it throbs… and it eats away at us… just like my finger was eating itself… essentially. When we ignore it, the only thing that comes of that is a really ugly life (like my finger)… and it pains us even more. We are forced to look at it, and soon everyone sees it for what it is: a really ugly, nasty thing that nobody wants in association with who they are. What is worse is when we pretend like it is okay. I couldn’t very well say my finger was ‘okay’… it was obvious that it looked like a large, washed up whale of a thing that had sat on a beach for a few weeks. It was not pretty. However, I could hide it in my pocket, or have it covered by a band-aid (like what Ella supplied)… and those that were none the wiser would not know any different. I could say it looked great and that everything was fine. No, lying about my finger does not make it better… it is still the throbbing, beastly thing that it was. I might convince people it was fine, but that does not make it so. Therefore, I say this to say that one must drain their lives of turmoil, rid themselves of the disgusting puss in our lives… and allow our lives to be a better reflection of who we are, instead of looking like they belong to a nasty troll creature that replaced our life with his in the middle of the night while we were sleeping. As strange of a comparison this is, I share it because it is amazing the life lessons we are given every day in the most seemingly of odd places. I want to be an honest woman… who does not hide who I am. I am not saying I have not been this way, but this made it all the more apparent. So, in the midst of emotional pain, heartbreak, and everything imaginable comes this injury. There is beauty and lessons in even the most painful experiences… embracing them can only make you stronger. I could not even move my finger for a time due to immense swelling, which is another example of how immobilizing our lives can become if we let the nasty parts override the good. Internalizing negativity, pretending everything is okay when it is not, can only lead to swelling that leaves the joints of our life (like the bones of my finger), the very elements that give our lives movement, unable to move. I say all of this to say, I hated my finger for a time and even joked about how I wanted to amputate it because of the immense pain… but sometimes embracing it for what it is allows me to develop a different viewpoint and strengthen myself as a person. This may be a deep revelation to develop from a finger, and I am not saying my heart does not hurt, it does constantly right now, but I must take that pain and allow it to promote only good.
This brings me to my next point. When my finger hurts, it does so by throbbing. This throb is directly synchronized with my heart… the faster my heart beats, the faster the rate of my finger’s throb becomes. Having had past physical heart pains, I know what the emotional and physical side to that pain is. Throbbing is hard to ignore… it is constant, it is there, and it tells me what my heart is doing… like a direct link. When I became distressed, my heart would beat faster, and I could, thus, feel it in my finger. This is interesting because when one’s life throbs from pain, it is a link to one’s heart. If our hearts are linked to our lives through this throbbing, we can see it as a way to love even in pain, to express our heart in our lives, and, in turn, our lives in our hearts. Life and death become linked to the very fabric of how we process, but should not be set into categories of what is beautiful, true, and heartfelt… and what is not. This revelation lead me to find this poem:
Stream of Life
by Rabindranath Tagore
The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day
runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.
It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth
in numberless blades of grass
and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.
It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth
and of death, in ebb and in flow.
I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.
And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.
This poem spoke to me in that everything is connected in our lives. A beautiful tapestry has been woven, and every thread plays a part in its entire beauty. Our “life-throb”… our connection to everything in this world. That throb, we can feel it… sometimes it is due to pain, but there is utter beauty in even that. The beauty of the ebb and flow, each beat of our hearts as they pulsate to the rhythm of our surroundings, and our feelings. I think the problem I am having with this world is not expecting it to be fair or unfair, but the limiting perspective our society offers. As I’ve said at times in the past, people surround themselves with things that make them feel comfortable; lives revolve around being comfortable. True love is so quickly sacrificed for comfortable feelings and meaningless, empty physicality. Loved ones are so quickly sacrificed for the comfortable feeling of popularity amongst many. Outside people, the ones that do not break the barrier of the small worlds people have created… are ignored… because it is so much more comfortable to live in the worlds that they have created for themselves. Comfort is praised above all in this day in age. We have devices that offer us what we want when we want it… and a sense of entitlement is suddenly instilled in us that we feel we should feed the need for our comfort, even if it means hurting others. Among this goal of comfort are other pursuits I believe need to be reevaluated. People associate truly beautiful moments with being comfortable… and love with being comfortable. I can tell you, that is not the case. There was never so much love in the hospital room where my sister lay. There were overflowing tears, intense pain, and it was almost unbearable. However, there was beauty in the sheer, unbounded love that resonated there. I held onto my brother, my sister-in-law, my brother-in-law, and my mother… and you could feel unbounded love for each other and for my sister. Yet, at the very same time, there was a different type of beauty and unbounded love in the room with my new nephew as I saw new life, a new future, and a new hope lying right in front of me. Here was little Curran… who was innocent and pure. These were two very different situations, on opposite ends of the spectrum, yet they carried the similarity of intense, overpowering love… and, in that, beauty. I am not talking about look-at-the-pretty-stars type of beauty… I am talking about overpowering, bring-you-to-your-knees, let-all-emotion-go, lose-yourself-in-it, above-everything kind of beauty.
The search for comfort should not be upheld over what can be done in a state of being uncomfortable. Ignoring that throb in our lives will leave us motionless, but embracing it allows us to sync our hearts with it, and love unbounded. I must accept where I am at, embrace it, and let something beautiful come from it. I am not looking for security, I am looking to go past myself, past these emotions, past this limiting body… to find something so much more meaningful and beyond that. My sister would have wanted me to not be at a standstill because I hurt… I can almost hear her telling me that… and I won’t be still. I am not going to cut out pain in favor of feeling nothing… I am not going to ignore it… I want to go beyond what is expected in this world, embrace the throb, and pursue something beyond security in heart and mind.
Hello everyone who is reading my blog. For those of you who don’t know, my name is Zina Nicole (Dembitsky) Lahr. I am from a small town with no stop lights called Ouray, which is located in Colorado, and is often referred to as the “Switzerland of America.” It is a tiny town, structured much like a Pac-Man game… in the middle of a bowl of mountains.
I live here with my loving mother and grandmother, three generations under the same roof. It is rather beautiful… and I live here for several reasons. One, is that it is… in fact, beautiful. Two, is because I promised my grandmother (who is one of my best friends in the whole world) I would not leave her side for as long as I could. AND Three… three is because I somewhat enjoy the quirkiness of this area… which is one of the reasons I have started this blog.
I am an odd person, but the people of this town… and many who know me… accept this as normal. Thus, the name of my blog… see how this is all coming together? Good stuff, right? 😉 Anyway, I wear goggles, have really long hair, and I have my own style. I enjoy building robots, any kind of art, juggling devil sticks, learning new things, finding adventure in the mundane… and keeping a general child-like outlook on life. I am an art student, majoring in Media Arts and Animation… and I am attending college online at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh… just so I can stay in Ouray and/or travel freely.
With my story comes many heartbreaks… and a complete change in character and perspective. Such change is resulting from the rough year of 2010. Around the start of 2010, I lost my best friend Rais Clarin… who was my superhero. I consider his family to be mine now… and love the Clarins very much. Rais and I both loved comic books and movies… and would always talk about them together. After his sudden and unexpected parting, I saw his room and saw a Superman comic, which discussed the classic concept of “The Man Of Steel” by saying that he was invincible; nothing could stop him… except for kryptonite. I then realized that Rais was what he loved… he was a superhero. He was my hero. He was invincible in that he did not let anything define him, and that he lived to serve and to love others. He had superpowers of dancing like Michael Jackson… able to produce Monopoly money out of thin air… able to bowl like Fred Flinstone… and able to make the world better place by just being himself. His only kryptonite was that his heart just couldn’t hold all the love that he had. It just couldn’t contain all of it in such a limited space. He now does not need to worry about that ever again. He is still here… just not where we used to see him. I see pieces of him in his loving family… who shared their home with me on a difficult night after his parting. Knowing them has been one of my greatest accomplishments… besides being bestowed the title by Rais as one of his “best friends.”
There were many more heartbreaks in the span of the next few months… but… perhaps the hardest was the loss of my beloved sister Brie Gomez in a tragic car accident at the close of the year. Brie was my big sister, my rock, my wisdom in trying times. We were different in so many ways, but we ended up celebrating that difference in our long conversations. I loved my sister very much. She was an excellent mother…. and a wonderful writer/blogger… which is perhaps another reason for me starting my own blog. Brie was always giving me sisterly advice that I would sometimes pretend not to adhere to… but, in reality… I actually took her advice quite a bit… and I was very concerned about what she thought of me. I saw her as the ultimate. She was beautiful, intelligent, and had a very giving heart. Brie was certainly all about life. She gave life to her two girls: Mali and Eleri. She celebrated the lives of her family, her husband Eric, and especially her children. She counciled the emotionally hurt, providing them with new lives, all of her life. Then, even after her life on this earth ended, she provided life physically to those in need with the donation of her organs… And the delivery of her son Curran Blaec. She loved life and continues to touch others lives even now. She had these golden eyes that were so unique… And I can’t help but think, by looking through them, she saw nothing but gold in everyone.
When she was killed, as covered on national news, she was seven months pregnant with her son Curran Blaec. Curran survived, but is currently in ICU in Amarillo, TX (where my sister resided). You can view updates and donate money to Curran (at Happy State Bank) here: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/currangomez/journal
I have another sister Kara and two brothers: Stosch and Goss on my father’s side… and Brandon (brother to Brie) on my mother’s side. My brother Brandon recently married Liza KC (now White)… and I am so very thankful to have her as my sister as well!
Through this recent tragedy, I have undergone a change that even I find difficult to comprehend. I believe in God, but I do not find myself highly religious… it is more of a relationship of sorts. Regardless, I feel something happening within me. I hope this blog can be a place to filter my new self… to better understand my surroundings… and to delve into the thought processes I have never discussed with anyone on account of my considering them too ‘different’ or too ‘odd.’ No, this is a celebration of who I really am, who I am becoming, and the people that are shaping such an existence. Among those people is one who is so new to this world: Curran… who I plan to write a note or two… perhaps devote artistic expression towards… whenever I can.
This is a place where I will be writing, expressing my thoughts, presenting my art, and celebrating the life I have been given. Thank you for reading… and I hope you can read more soon.