A closed fist cannot serve

Hey all,

Life updates before the meat of the post, of course.

  1. Got more tea. Eight new kinds all based on different dances: foxtrot, mambo, ceylon waltz, chacha, tangy two-step, tango, electroswing and bolero. The last four are fan-made blends, the first four adagio blends. You can find all of them by searching here. I also got a sample of a blend called sleeping dragon for free with my order. I have yet to try it, but of course it sounds awesome.
  2. I will be taking a break from dancing for about five weeks this summer to be part of the production staff for Leaving Iowa, a show being put on by our church, so look for news on that maybe.
  3. I joined this thing called Storium, which is AWESOME. I highly recommend it if collaborative writing/gaming is your thing. I joined as a beta tester through the Kickstarter campaign, but there will be a public launch hopefully in November. You can find more information here or presumably eventually on their website (not sure how much you can see there right now if you aren’t a tester). Basically it’s like tabletop RPG (role playing game) gaming, but on the internet and a lot less complicated.

Post Meat

So, as is so often the case with me, two seemingly random things collided in my brain recently.

First, I’ve been going through a big nerd stage recently, where I think about magic and video games and anime a lot and want to watch all of the things that give me that gut-wrenching nervous feeling when the fictional people I’m way too emotionally attached to get hurt or challenged and have to overcome it and they all learn valuable lessons and I just want to live in those moments and get overly attached to fictional characters and write or read or game or watch things all the time.

Secondly, in the course of a few short minutes of Facebook stalking, I once again found myself lamenting being myself.

How did this all come together?

Well, as background, part of my excessive nerdiness has included joining Storium (a collaborative storytelling game) and joining a bunch of fantasy themed games, forcing me of course to consider things like character motivation and such. There’s this way of categorizing characters in gaming called alignment. Traditionally there are nine options ranging from lawful good to chaotic evil, but a more simple version would be Open Palm vs. Closed Fist (or some equivalent metaphor). This usually comes up in games where you have some freedom to be a good guy or bad guy, the Closed Fist meaning you’re usually a jerk that everyone fears but obeys, Open Palm meaning you don’t go stealing lunch money but thereby have an army of mathletes and millionaire inventors at your disposal once everyone graduates college. In any case, character motivation has been on my mind, which we’ll circle back to in a minute.

As further background, we’ll talk about the Facebook thing. I hadn’t been meaning to Facebook stalk, but it came up when I saw an old friend from high school had commented on a mutual friend’s post. I clicked on their profile picture because their thumbnail made them look very different than I remembered, and I was surprised to find that they did in fact look different. They’d only grown prettier with age (already an absolute darling back then) and subsequent stalking through the paths of mutual friends revealed that dang, yes, many of my high school classmates have only gotten more pretty or handsome. Not only that, but they look like adults. Real, full on, fully realized, competent people. I was a little surprised, not because I didn’t think they had it in them, but because enough time has passed for this to come to fruition. I still don’t feel like an adult most of the time, and yet, here they were, getting drinks with friends after work, still maintaining frequent in person contact with their circles of friends, visiting Europe, traveling, moving away to far off places and having successful dating relationships. And here’s me, sitting in typically frumpian Abby clothes, day old eye makeup making me look like a raccoon while I stalk people I haven’t spoke to in years.

I have to admit, my self confidence sunk pretty fast, which was frustrating considering how boldly I had been telling people not to despise their differences less than two months ago for roughly the same problem. It’s hard when these things happen because I know how dumb it is and still can’t help myself. So, naturally, what does one do when faced with perceived failure as a human being? Try to wiggle out of it, of course. I started trying to come up with things I had done that proved that I had somehow done something in the last five years. Not easy when you’re being hard on yourself and nothing you’ve done seems impressive.

Except, I know I’ve grown as a person. I’ve grown by leaps and bounds in fact, especially in the last year, and what’s more, I’m not even held to the standards of this world. Not really, anyway. I knew even as it was happening I was judging myself against the wrong standards, and while it didn’t mean it wasn’t a struggle, I was aware that that fact was and would be what would pull me out of the debasing mire, a sign of growth in itself. By the end of the night I felt better actually, and a little subsequent creeping the following morning didn’t really drag me down so much as make me think. I thought of where I used to be only a few years ago and realized, man, God is seriously making me chill out. It’s incredibly freeing, and the best way I can describe it is like having a fist clasped around your belief set and having someone slowly relax the grip. I’m not saying I don’t believe Jesus is my savior or that I don’t believe in God or anything anymore, because I do, what I am letting go of–ever so slowly–is the idea that I am right or know everything and the facade that makes me look like I do.

See, when you live your life thinking you know how the world works, any change to your worldview rapidly becomes a threat. It’s an attitude that I think a lot of people can get lost in, one of the main reasons we struggle so much to have open discussion as a society, in fact. It’s the attitude that says anyone who thinks or acts differently is inherently “other” or “them” and ultimately, of course, wrong. And not just in a factually correct or incorrect way. It creates an almost inherent wrongness, separating them from  “correct” human beings. It’s an attitude which I think has prevented me in the past from loving many people as much as I should. It’s scary to be challenged, and for me, especially about Christian ideas, I think it was a case where anything that might have loosened the fist instead made me clench tighter. The funny thing about a clenched fist though, is there’s not that much you can do with it. Keep what’s inside from others or konk them over the head, you don’t have that many options. With an open hand however, well, you can do a lot more. Play music, offer water, give a high five or get a hand up. I guess what it means is to be humble enough to love others more than yourself, or more specifically, you being correct. Closed fists create aggression. Open palms create community. Kinda wish I’d figured it out sooner, but hey, I’m no angel.

Oh, and another cool thing? I’ve gotten closer to those I already loved, too, including God. Turns out another thing you can do with a clenched fist is protect what’s inside, even from those trying to help. Letting go frees me to see and learn things I never knew before, not just from other people but also straight from the source. I’ve learned more about God’s character and love and power from letting him change and correct me than I ever could from a static life. He is an infinite God. That means there’s a lot to learn.

Anyway, it all kind of clicked during church while our pastor was talking about human control. I like when life overlaps. I think it’s kind of neat.


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