Friday, March 14, 2008
Well, after I say this:
Matt is the most wonderful man in the whole world! And I get to marry him in THREE MONTHS! HURRAH!
(Sorry Matt - you can delete this if you like!)
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I will try to write more later, but as I am at work, I content myself, and you must content yourselves, with her words.
Apologies for the delay in adding anything to Lara's post. She having told the entire story of our relationship, there is not much for me to add. Lara is a woman of unsurpassable charm, from the moment I first read her blog I knew that she was someone I respected for her ability to think and communicate.
It wasn't until we got to emailing later that I realised just how caring, considerate and charming an individual she was.
I have been incredibly blessed to know her, and will be so much more blessed on the day she becomes my wife. I look forward eagerly to that day.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
The Wrong Brothers
I have a theory. It goes something like this. Humans like to define the boundary. We like to understand exactly where the point is that, once crossed, we will be in the wrong. The reason we want to do this is so that we can go as far as possible towards crossing the line without actually crossing it. So we can 'toe the line'. This is to enable us to get as much of the things we want (but know are wrong) as possible, without actually crossing the line and doing the thing that is wrong.
This perhaps needs an example. I'm going to take this from a Christian point of view, but the point can be extended beyond that. The bible tells us do not commit adultery. So, for example, a man and a woman might go on a date, head back to her house together for a nightcap, smooch a bit, and go as far as they possibly can, but as long as they doesn’t actually complete the act, they will say, “No, I never committed adultery.” And they will be telling a technical truth. In their minds, in their desires, they did, but as far as physically going through with it, they are innocent. They have kept the commandment and can pat themselves on the back.
I hope that the majority of my readers can see just how ludicrous this kind of justification is, but it is a justification that has been used throughout history. Jesus himself had to deal with it. I think this is part of the reason why he says 'I tell you the truth, anyone who even looks at a woman lustfully is committing adultery with her in his heart'. Living up to God’s law is not just about obeying the letter of the law, but obeying the spirit - obeying the ideas that are behind them! The command not to commit adultery is (to my mind) one that springs out of a realisation that adultery is a bad thing. It destroys relationships, it shatters families, it hurts people, and it besmirches the great gifts that God has given us.
Once we understand and accept that, the next step is obvious. The command was to not commit adultery, but even taking the first step down that long slippery road will have similar (but less pronounced) effects. So we should not even take that first step. In fact, once we accept this, we do not need to know exactly where that boundary line is. The only reason to define the exact limit of where we can't go is if we are already toeing that line and living in dangerous territory. We instead know that the boundary is somewhere way off in the distance, and we are going to work really hard to never get close enough to it that defining its exact location matters.
Another point worth noting is that the closer we are to the line, the easier it is to look down and notice that we have accidentally put a foot across it.
Now I want to take this point and apply it to something a little more controversial. I think the majority of people will agree with me on what I have said about adultery, but what about taxation? When asked about paying taxes, Jesus tells us to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.
I think most people will agree with me that the loopholes in our law which allow the people earning the most money of all in the country to pay close to no tax are completely unfair, and such a thing would be close to if not well over toeing the line here, but what about the rest of us? Should we be hunting for every possible deduction, even the ones that are dubiously justifiable? Should we be paying an accountant hundreds of dollars to find ways to massage the way we express our expenses to fit tax law and thus be deductible?
Or should we just take a step back, and gladly give what we are required to be giving?
(I'm not saying that we should not be claiming anything, just that some of the things some accountants will tell us to claim are pushing us closer and closer to toeing and eventually crossing that line.)
Something to think about anyway.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Company and Marriage
I have been thinking through a few things recently about marriage (no prizes for guessing why). One thing that has particularly struck me has been Company, a musical by Stephen Sondheim. (Some spoilers ahead).
Company tells the story of Robert, a 30-something single guy, and 5 married couples who are his close friends, while exploring the benefits and costs of marriage. I'm not going to expose the entire plot here, but just talk about a few of the songs that really struck me. During the musical, Bobby develops through stages from single and happy that way, to 'ready' for marriage (but only a little), to struggling with whether he wants the good with the bad. There is no explicit conclusion either way (well... perhaps there is... see later), but I did feel that the balance came out greatly in favour of marriage.
I wanted to touch briefly on 3 of the songs from Company, the ones that I found the most thought provoking.
The first is 'Marry me a Little.'
Marry me a little,
Love me just enough.
Cry, but not too often,
Play, but not too rough.
Keep a tender distance
so we'll both be free.
That's the way it ought to be.
When I first heard this song, I found it incredibly poignant. Sarcastic. Witty. Clever.
It shows just how far from a healthy view of marriage Bobby is. Marriage to him is about getting the little benefits without any of the costs. It's a view that is probably shared by many people these days. Marriage won't be hard work; I can get the small things I want, as much as I want of them and no more. And it won't get hard. If it does I can always walk...
To me, marriage is exactly the opposite of this. Marriage is about a complete commitment: a commitment to marry not a little, not a lot, but completely!
I love the sarcastic irony of this song sung in such a triumphant manner - 'I'm ready!' Talking about the great revelation that he has had, that he now understands marriage, that he knows what he wants and how to get it. I love how this song is used to show with every line just how not ready Robert is.
The second song worth noting is 'Sorry-Grateful.'
Robert asks his friend, Larry, if he's sorry he got married. This is the response.
Why look for answers
When none occur?
You always are what you always were,
Which has nothing to do with, all to do with her.
It's quite an interesting song to me, as it basically presents a completely neutral view of marriage. It presents it as good and bad which balance out. It presents a bunch of contrasting ideas: good and bad, and no real indication which is better. Marriage and singleness: they are the same. Singleness is a neutral state, and marriage is an oscillation between greater happiness and greater sadness.
I like this song because it really challenges me to think about this concept. Marriage is more complex, with higher highs and lower lows. It's complicated. I dislike, however, the feeling I get from the song that these cancel out. The song doesn't explicitly say it, but it certainly feels that way. I do not think that a life full of highs and lows is equivalent to a live of neutrality. In fact, I think that the difference could be closer to that of experiencing life verses travelling through life as a spectator.
A short aside... that's not to say that I think all single people are not experiencing their lives to the fullest. I think marriage is just one thing that gives you the highs and lows talked about here. They are part of living life.
The third song I want to talk about is 'Being Alive.'
This song, more than any of the others, seems to capture my thoughts about marriage. The song is a progression and you really need the friends' comments to understand this. So many people seem to sing it out of context and miss the entire point. They cut out the friends lyrics, and some even skip the early verses which destroys the development and obscures the change in the singer.
I think the song really does speak for itself (so go read it!) Bobby makes the decision that the bad times ARE worth it, if he wants the good. He will put up with the struggles married life will bring, because the benefits DO outweigh the costs.
It's interesting how my impressions differ from those of the creator. Sondheim apparently said,
I find the notion that the same lyric can apply in the first act and the second act very suspect. Most of the time the character has moved beyond, particularly if you're telling a story of any weight or density. Company was a show where we could have used reprises, because it's about a fellow who stayed exactly the same, but I didn't want him to be the essential singing character, so I decided not to.
Friday, July 13, 2007
What is a Big thing?
I spoke (quite a while ago now, but just a few posts ago) about Everest's and Kosciusko's, about doing small things as a way of preparation for big things. About the way we all yearn for a big thing.
Recently I was having a discussion with my sister and I came to the conclusion that what I had said was not quite right. Oh don't get me wrong, it was right as far as it went, but it presupposed something that I no longer hold to be true. It presupposed that everyone will have one (or maybe multiple) Everest's, “Big things”. That they need them.
I think its not unusual or uncommon for people to desire one “big thing”, something to set as their goal in life, something of import. I think its something popular culture pushes us towards. All the TV we watch, any book we read, any story we hear, its always about someone exceptional. We all yearn to be them, because they are the default, the standard that any fictional character must live up to in order to be interesting. And invariably, they have a big thing.
Just to give one example I really like of this, we look at Roger, from Rent
I'm Writing One Great Song Before I ...
Before I Go
One Song To Leave Behind
Find One Song
One Last Refrain
From The Pretty Boy Front Man
Who Wasted Opportunity
He Had The World At His Feet
In The Eyes Of A Young Girl
A Young Girl
Beyond The Cheap Colored Lights
Before The Sun Sets
Glory - On Another Empty Life
Time Flies - Time Dies
Glory - One Blaze Of Glory
One Blaze Of Glory - Glory
in a song that rings true
truth like a blazing fire
an eternal flame
A Song About Love
From The Soul Of A Young Man
A Young Man
The One Song
Before The Virus Takes Hold
Like A Sunset
To Redeem This Empty Life
And Then - No Need To Endure Anymore
Roger has AIDS, and does not know how long he has to live, but he has decided that his Everest is to write a “great song”. But he just cant do it. This song will Redeem his entire life. It will make up for all the bad he has done, it will make him complete. He is stagnating, not moving forward as he invests his everything into finding this song, unable to move forward at all, to improve his life, because he cannot complete his one big thing.
To take an example from “real life” I have had a few friends who were so obsessed with the idea of having a girlfriend, so in love with the concept, that they had put onto that all the other things in their lives. They would feel valued when they had a girlfriend to value them. They would have all the smaller things, all the little improvements in their lives that they needed when they had the big thing. The girlfriend. So many of the small things, the things they were sure the girlfriend would give them, were thing they could have fixed in their own lives themselves. Minor things, but that they had convinced themselves could only come through the girlfriend. And so their lives stagnated. Unable to move forward. Unable to improve. Because they did not have their one big thing. Their Everest.
This desire is unreasonable, because there is no way in the world that we will ever all be exceptional. Beyond that, I think about the exceptional people, and I wonder. Would Einstein have considered his theory of relativity to be exceptional? Would it have been his Everest? Or would he have thought of it is a Kosciusko? I suspect the later.
Maybe the way we should be looking at life is this. Unless we have one now, there are no Everest's. If one shows up, we should climb it when it comes, but if we never have an Everest, does this devalue our life? Does this make us less? Certainly Not. We can improve ourselves, we can conquer our Kosciusko's, and keep moving forward, keep improving, and when the Everest's do come, we will look at them as molehills. They wont be the big things they were when we saw them on the horizon.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
In case you were wonding what I looked like...
Sunday, April 01, 2007
I will be planning a group trip to see "phantom of the opera" starring Anthony Warlow in Melbourne.
The plan will be as follows
Date : 22 September
Plan : I will be making a group booking for accommodation on the night of the 22nd, and for tickets to the show. People will be responsible for making their arrangements for travel down and back up.
Who : If you would consider yourself my friend, and I have met you in real life, then you.
What : ... do you need to do if you are interested...
Email me. If you don't already have my email address it is the name I post under here, chindogu, and it is at gmail.com
Make the subject of the email "phantom of the opera trip"
Let me know how many I will be booking for, and whether they are students/pensioners/some other form of discount.
There is a closing date on this. I need to book the tickets all at once, so we are sitting together. What I plan to do is this. I will take final numbers on 22 April. At that point I will provide final pricing and other details by return email. From there you will have one week to get the money to me (Ill provide Bank details for EFT). I will also make a post on the blog here with the complete guest list (first names only) so you can see who is coming.
Be warned that I expect the cost to be somewhere between $200-$250 (Tickets are $100, and overnight accommodation in Melbourne is not cheap) I suspect it will be twin share rooms.
And in case you were not aware... we will need to dress up nice.. Sorry...
I have just noticed the date.... I am tempted to delay posting this a day so people will not think this is a prank. But It's not. It may be the day of fools, but this is for real.