When I was in grade nine I was the student director of a musical called Merrily We Roll Along, one of the least successful musicals by one of the greatest composers, Stephen Sondheim. I would pace nervously across the back of the theatre, stressed about all sorts of details. Letting a ninth-grader direct the musical was rare in the high school hierarchy and I was driven to perfection insofar as I knew how to be. But there was Amanda the techie who would emerge from the shadows, all in black, and say, “Hand squeeze,” and we’d crush each other’s hands with all our strength. It was not the slightest bit romantic. It was pure drama nerd mutual psychological support. She’d squeeze out the rage of missing adapter plugs and burnt out bulbs and just the general rage of having an artistic vision well beyond our high school’s budget. I’d squeeze out the frustrations with adult supervision that was at once unsupportive and micromanagerial, upper classmen who were tone deaf but had paid their dues and “deserved” solos, and eventual parents who couldn’t comprehend plot devices in theatre their 14-year-olds grasped with ease. We squeezed silently, unlatched, and went about the business of making the greatest show we could. Continue reading »
I am distracted and distractable and often quite distracting. Clincally diagnosed so. Left to my own devices, I am a mess. My mind wonders and rushes and between idea to idea. Sometimes they rush by too quickly to ever be made manifest into meaningful communication. Sometimes they come like an attack, inescapable and unrelenting. A certain midnight blog post, for example. But distraction’s unrelenting power is a pragmatic hassle at best, and a life-, or at least making-a-living-, threatening risk at worst. Continue reading »
Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10a)
Be still? Oh God ask me of me anything, but not that. Ask me to stop my career, move to San Diego, and be a missionary. I would do that. Ask me to direct a camp in Idaho. I would do that. Ask me to change denominations. I would do that. Ask me to stay up all night at the youth lock-in. Ask me to lead a mission trip to Tennessee. Ask me to direct a Christmas pageant. Ask me to do it again and again. Ask me go to anywhere, to speak to anyone, to do anything. But please, dear God, don’t ask me to be still.
God is faithful and will not let you be tempted beyond your ability. (excerpt from 1 Corinthians 10:13)
Oh really, God. Explain my left leg to me. My left leg is the common enemy of the quiet and reverent and focused who find themselves in my presence. Since childhood it has had a tendency to bounce if I am seated. A gentle but relentless bounce. It was during a grade nine English exam where I first noticed its automated persistence. A classmate, inconveniently a gorgeous classmate who loved French and cats and drama club, and thus who I had a crush on, snapped. “OH MY GOD, can you please sit still!” she exclaimed into the silent void of fourteen-year-olds suffering their Dickensian plight of analysing Dickensian plots. I would note that contrary to what I would have hoped at the start of that exam, she is not now my wife. I presume she has since made a quiet home with a quiet, still husband. The distracting, bouncing left leg has not matured into stillness in the intervening decades or degrees or professional experience. It earns me glares on airplanes. Mercifully, the Good Lord has seen fit to place me in a religious tradition where when I sit reverently in front of the entire congregation, I am usually in flowing robes, moderately hiding the persistent distracted irreverence. It is a biological mystery I cannot stop. No doctor has figured it out. Whether or not it has a biological link to my mental health, I do not presume to know, but it is sort of the outward sign of an invisible neuroatypicality. Continue reading »