the life and times of a twenty year old designer

Archive for September 2012

wind and breath

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This afternoon I spent some lovely hours in the afternoon sun, praying, reading, seeking, and resting. I wrote a journal entry that began to sound increasingly share-able as I went on, so I’m giving it a shot at publication. I have a tendency to over edit myself, so it’s a nice change of pace to throw out something I wrote in one shot on paper. I thought about trying to explain it a bit, but my hope is that it speaks for itself. Thoughts and responses and lengthy discourses always appreciated. Much love to all. 

I have been reticent to draw close, for fear my inadequacies will provoke reprimand and I will be punished with greater distance. I am clinging to coattails when I have been offered a full robe. And as I finally begin to draw from the Presence, bringing all the frustrations and baggage and fears and failures that threaten to overwhelm human relationship, I find loving acknowledgement that overwhelms condemnation. A voice that says “I know. Oh my child, I know. This isn’t what I intended. Let me help you begin to seek restoration.”

My first train of thought this afternoon followed the wind. The wind is always with us, and we draw upon it hundreds of times an hour for support and sustenance. And yet. We are often barely aware of its presence, and are rarely inclined to acknowledge the subtle yet vital currents which support each breath of sustaining life. We are thankful for a cool breeze on a hot day, for the moderate, predictable comfort when our air is conditional, fanned, and controlled. We do our best to override nature and create comfortable rhythms. But the great strength and power of the wind is its ability to provide ever-present sustenance and at the same time be utterly surprising.

Working in small, unnoticeable ways, the wind carries pollen, creates habitable environment, brings rain, cloud, providence so subtle to our eyes that it appears coincidence. And yet, we are most aware of the wind when it is forceful, erratic, unexpected, and disruptive. We often only recognize its power when it becomes impossible to act otherwise. We remember dustbowls and hurricanes, yet our thanks for the less violent and more valuable moments is rooted more in expectation than gratitude. The lessons we learn in the maelstrom dissipate into adages of placation and fears of disruption. We cling to the drama and passion of the tempests, never realizing that even in storms of our own making a gentle breath of sustenance draws itself in and out of the center of our body, whether we wish it to or not.

This is truth, pure goodness. For I am never abandoned. Every minute of every day, just as my body unconsciously accepts the gift of breath, so my soul cries out to accept and recognize the gift of Presence. This gift demands a response. It is foolish to see a storm coming and not batten down the hatches, it is impossible to have one’s hair unruffled by breeze or escape the blessing fo seasons, and it is illogical to breathe in without breathing out. How we respond to the wind’s rhythms, both erratic and predictable, is crucial  In breathing out we expel all the fullness that has been gifted to our lungs, trusting implicitly that there will be sufficient oxygen to sustain the next breath. We cannot selfishly hold on to our breath, as though it was ever ours at all. For a moment we are left weak, so that we may receive again the grace of being filled. 



Written by Taylor Webster

September 30, 2012 at 9:15 pm

tuning the banjo

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I’ve been trying to play my banjo all weekend. It’s been a few weeks since I really sat down and let loose and played. And while my fingers still remember the chords and the picking patterns, until this afternoon, nothing sounded quite right.

I have a tendency to be a bit proud with my banjo. I was trying to tune it by ear, based off an online tuner that simply dictated the right notes without any sense of feedback, leaving my innate sense of pitch to guess as close as I could. And to be honest, this morning it sounded pretty awful.

This afternoon, I finally used a tuner from the internet that fed through my laptop microphone, precisely analyzing every pitch and letting me know how close I was to the correct note and what steps I needed to take to get all my strings in harmony.

And let me tell you. The little guy sounded incredible.

As I often like to say, I think there’s a lesson in that. As the afternoon progressed, the reminder to “remember to tune your banjo” kept rolling over and over in my head.

I can see places in my life where I’ve been trying to hammer things out based on already established technique and personal proficiency. It is easy to approach a challenge, a problem, or even a celebration and say “Of course! I’ve learned how to do this already. Hand me the instrument and I’ll crank out that tune for you.” This often leads to a firm grasp that threatens to overshadow the delicacies and beauties and quirks of the individual instrument, assuming that what has once worked will always work, and to simply keep hammering even as the instrument groans with a desire to be more fully tuned before such a difficult melody is attempted.

It is much more challenging to approach the instrument with trembling hands and say “Yes. This is something I once knew how to do. I can be part of creating beauty here. The patterns and chords and melody are all familiar to me, and I know what this beautiful instrument should sound like at its best. But before we even start, we have to take time for the strings. We have to check each one, slowly and carefully, and make sure that it rings true, pure, and clear.” So often, in seeking to create and dream, live and hope, challenge and encourage, we skip the tuning step. We forget that it does not matter how many patterns and progressions and theory we know. If the strings have not been tuned, our music will always be devoid of beauty and clarity.

And so, in seeking to continue moving forward, I am reminded that the life patterns and technical proficiencies and skills I have acquired on the journey will mean very little if the strings at the heart of the instrument have fallen out of tune. Slowly and deliberately, I want to retune every string so that it rings true with the heart of the Creator whose song is the only true melody in my soul. I pray that as the tuning draws closer to the intended notes, the song which bursts forth would surpass the dull plodding of answers and routines, muscle memory and technical knowledge, and begin to glow with the bright hope of a sure heart and a resounding joy.


Written by Taylor Webster

September 9, 2012 at 11:00 pm