Idiomas Fantásticas

I love Spanish poetry. Most of it seems like prose to me, but nevertheless it is beautiful. It is my aim, today, to imitate some of the greats that I have read and loved. I hope you enjoy it. I will post a translation in English below the original, but, as always, it doesn’t quite do it justice.

 

Idiomas Fantásticas

Hoy.
Hoy es un día de los en que yo quiero gritar en una idioma fantástica
Pero no sé nada de esos
Sé una idioma romántica
Pues, escribo en la lengua de Barcelona, de Santiago, y de todos los corazones de los amantes que aman hoy.

En mi opinión, la alma de cada amante habla, implora, en español
Pero no entienden las palabras, mucha gente, porque apprendieron lenguas diferentes
Y estan dejado tratar entender sus corazones que solo pueden comunicar con gestos y sonidos vacuos

La cosa extraña es este:
Yo hablo la lengua de Barcelona, de Santiago, y de todos los corazones de los amantes que aman hoy
Y mucho del tiempo, no puedo distinguir las palabras de mi corazón del viento
Quizás mi corazon habla Francés

Debo aprender la Francés

 

Fantastical Languages

Today is one of those days when I want to shout in a fantastical language
But I don’t know any of those
I know a romantic language
Thus, I write in the language of Barcelona, of Santiago, and of all of the hearts of all of the lovers who love today

It is my belief that the soul of every lover speaks, pleads, in Spanish
But they don’t understand its words, many of them, because they learned different languages
And they are left trying to decipher empty gestures and sounds

This is the strange thing:
I speak the language of Barcelona, of Santiago, and of all the hearts of all the lovers who love today
And most of the time I still can’t distinguish the words of my heart from the blowing of the wind
Perhaps my heart speaks French

I should learn French.

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Musing

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A sunrise means hope and new beginnings, and there is nothing more romantic than a sunset. One is potential, the other completion, both poetic and fine. A sunrise cannot be tainted, for it is pure. Anticipation wraps itself in crimson clouds as the roused sun rises. Anything can happen on this day.

A sunset is final. Nothing can be added, nothing taken away as the proud sun, whether victorious or defeated, sinks beneath the waters below at the edge of the earth.

You don’t hear much about the noon.

Noon isn’t glorious. It is hot, tedious, and sweaty. The brilliant colors of the day’s bookends are absent from its bright blue skies- beautiful to be sure, but common, almost, since they are present for hours and hours each day. A sunrise or a sunset is just a fleeting glimpse. This is why we remember them. This is why we revere them.

Yet noon is when all of the work gets done. The hours between rising and setting when the sky is no longer on fire, when the world is no longer sleeping, when potential is mostly spent and finality has not yet come. Noon is not poetic, but it is necessary, and even here there is some wonder to be found, but of a different kind, and harder to see.

I love a sunrise, but it is juvenile. I love a sunset, but isn’t it death? I am in the noon of my life, or sometime in midmorning, at least, and there is much work to be done.

The blue sky feels brilliant today.

Innocence Again

A friend gave me a call recently, asking me to come and sing Christmas Carols for some kids in Downtown LA at an afterschool event. It was before Christmas, naturally, and it was a low key event. Lots of kids, a handful of adults serving them food and hanging out with them.  There were some crafts.  Nothing was very programmed. Just hotdogs, a little playground, and me.
It was a lot of fun, naturally, even though I must have had to gently remind the five and six year-olds not to turn the tuning pegs on my guitar about a hundred times. I had never met any of the kids before, but one of the people in charge enthusiastically introduced me, then left. A small sea of tiny faces stared at me expectantly, gathered around so tightly that they were pressing against me. I started playing Christmas Carols, they laughed and started singing along and dancing, and it was great. They really, really liked Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. We must have sung it no less than eight times.
Kids: “Again!”

Me: “We just sang it- are you sure you don’t want me to play something else?”

Kids: “Again!”

Me: *Shrugs. Starts playing the same song over again.*

After I had only been at the school for a few minutes, kids were already fighting for places on my lap, which was tricky since my lap also had a guitar in it. I had forgotten how much small children like to sit on people.
All of this is to say that I noticed a couple of things from this experience that made me think.

Innocence

Kids have no pretensions about them. If they want to dance, then they’re dang well going to dance. If they like a song so much that they want to keep singing it, they’ll repeat it eight times. If they’ve just met you and they decide that they want to sit on your lap, you better believe they’re going to try. If they love you, they’ll tell you. By and large, kids have not yet gotten adept at pretending to be something they’re not, like we adults have.

The Absolute Opposite of Innocence
Kids, as I’ve just mentioned, aren’t very into the idea of editing themselves. Sometimes the result is precious: a little song and dance, a joke that makes less than no sense, but is still amazing, or an unexpected, right on the mark comment. Other times, this quality means that they’ll suddenly flip a switch and be mercilessly mean to their little friends, shouting accusations, smearing their character, growing sullen. It’s an odd dynamic. Kids often lie, steal, cheat, etc., and they need to be taught how to do what is right. Luckily God made them very small, because they can’t do a whole lot of damage to themselves or others when they get upset or start acting cruel.

All of this made me think that we take these two things I’ve mentioned and flip them around as adults. We edit ourselves all of the time. We have affectations, stigmas, images, and masks that are exquisitely and delicately carved. We often worry what others will think of us if we express our true feelings, do what we think is right, dance when we want to dance.

Cruelty still lives in our lives, but with our skills of pretense, we’re able to disguise our meanness. It is easy for us to justify our bad behavior, to cloak our accusations and our name-calling in a noble fabric.

It would be better if we were like the kids I sat and played guitar with. They have junk in their hearts too, but at least when it comes out it’s clear to them and everyone else that something wrong has taken place. People say that imagination is the realm of children, but I say that adults are much more creative. We have grown far too adept at pretending.

Fourteen Lines

Writing a poem is a curious thing
I have just fourteen lines to make you feel
Something, anything, get you remembering
To look at words and receive something real

But there’s no time for an introduction
Or if there was it’s over and now I
…I want to take you back to the ocean
To that night you knew you loved, heard her sigh

To the days when you just felt so ashamed
Going from knowing the world adores you
To knowing that it hates you, feeling blamed
I need to stir memories, but rhyme, too

Yet I don’t have time to tell you you’re wrong
In both cases.  Fourteen lines, used and gone

 

Couple by the Ocean

A Toast to the New Year

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Another year has come, another has gone.  New Year’s Eve is always such a wonderful time of reflection and celebration, and this year was no exception.  Some friends of mine hosted a party this year and they asked me to prepare and deliver a speech, which I did.  For your reading pleasure I post it here now.  Most of the party-goers were fellow USC Trojans recently graduated, like myself, thus the references to that storied university.  In any case, I hope you enjoy.

 

~New Years Eve, 2013~

This was a year of firsts, a year of seconds, and for the particularly gluttonous, it was a year of thirds.  Many of you graduated from college for the first time.  Many of you graduated from college for the second time.  The particularly gluttonous did not graduate from college at all, but rather helped themselves to thirds at thanksgiving dinner. Monty Kiffin was fired this year.  Then Lane Kiffin was fired.  All signs point to a T-5 Sarknado heading for Los Angeles next year and the USC Trojans who are so near and dear to all of our hearts, are poised for a year of greatness.

We have been a nation at war, both abroad and at home over domestic policies.  We have been a nation at peace, trying to build a better life and learn to live as the adults that we have so recently become.  Some of you were married for the first time this year.  For those of you who were married for the second and third times this year: shame on you.  You’re only, what- 22? 23 maybe?  But in all seriousness, the marriages that we have seen thus far this year, our friends J and S, B and A, and soon, K and C, we know that with God’s help they’ll go the distance.  That distance is no small one.  Psychology and our own life experience tell us that as we get older our perception of time speeds up, because we base our idea of time on past experience.  We have more of it now.  The days are just as long, but the years begin to feel shorter.  Yesterday was 2009.  Tomorrow is 2020.

Drones seem to have been on the scene in 2013.  The military uses them, certainly, but also Amazon has now thrown their hat into the drone ring.  By the end of 2015 this speech will likely be given by a speech drone, which is progress for certain, but also very boring.  The mechanical orators of fiction always seem to drone on.

It is an interesting thing, this night of reflection.  Man has always reached for the future just as he has always reached for the stars.  The only difference, then, is that not everyone travels among the stars, but all men reach the future, one day, one second, and one breath at a time. Suddenly another wisp of what was once the present has passed, is past, and at last we are here and now, but that sentence was only accurate a few moments ago.  We cannot help but speculate here on the eve of 2014 what the future will be like.  What will we be like?  We are certain to make resolutions and changes, may they be for the best and may we keep them.  A certain dejected sense of inevitable failure surrounds New Year’s resolutions, but it does not need to be so, nor should it.  With a long and healthy look at our lives on this night of reflection, we are apt to find some new weakness or some new opportunity for growth.  With God as our strength, our hope, and with no small amount of perseverance, the changes can and will be lasting.  Yet even so, I caution you with the warning of Ecclesiastes, where it says that it is better not to vow at all than to vow and not pay.  Therefore, let our no’s be no’s and our yes’ to the affirmative.  Anything else is evil and of this world.  There is grace for stumbling, always, but let us not make a habit of breaking promises, even to ourselves.

2014 feels foreign now, but it will soon feel comfortable.  It will be strange writing a four at the end of the date when we write checks and sign forms, but before long we will bemoan having to shift again, feeling the strangeness of a five.  Time marches on, but we march on with it.  The difficulty is remembering that though we are now young and fancy-free, the time will soon come when the sands in our glass grow few.  None knows when his time may come- a comfort to us, surely, for heaven will show us the meaning of pleasure and rightness.  Yet even so, let us remember that we will not be young forever.  They say that youth is wasted on the young, but we, the young, have the benefit of the old young telling us that the young waste their gift of youth.  So may we be an exception.  My speech, like the year, once just beginning, is now at an end, but I leave you with these words of blessing:

May you work diligently and well and yet rest fully when it is time to rest.

May your relationships grow deeper, abounding both in depth and in joyous levity.

May you find love this year.  It has many forms, yet all are in imitation of the First Love.

May you run and not grow weary, may you walk and not grow faint.

May you trust in the Lord in all that you do, and may the only fear that your heart knows be the fear of God, knowing that neither man nor beast nor sea nor storm nor demons nor circumstances nor death’s sickle itself may harm you.

Finally, I find that I can close in no better fashion than by quoting the immortal words of William Shakespeare himself as they pertain to the blessings, the warnings, and the encouragements that have been given in this speech: “If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.”

2013 has ended.  Here is to 2014.