Wednesday, February 19, 2014

February Syndrome

Winter. The longest eight months of the year. Or at least, that’s what it feels like. Every November, when the clouds roll in, when the trees give up their abundance, I have to admit a sort of happiness, a giddy joy crawls into my gut. Fall, in all its splendor, has ascended old summer’s throne. When the frost creeps in over the leaves, when it forces me to wear shoes, for a while there is excitement. There are hoodies in this part of the year; heavy wool sweaters and jeans, oranges and greens and reds. Pumpkin-spice candles that smell nothing like pumpkins; campfire smoke that sinks into your skin.
It means that you’ll be firing up the ovens for baking, and getting rid of the ice-cubes in your coffees. You’ll need it black, strong and warm to make it through the storm of silence that’s coming. It means cover up the grill, but we’ll make homemade pizza; it means split the wood, and, eventually sit back and watch the snow fall. It’s a signal to the summer lovers to bundle up, crawl into their holes with the other groundhogs and pop themselves full of vitamins. Put on your helmet and pads, like the guys making money on TV. Time to hibernate
Everyone loves fall. Most people even like Winter.
But nobody likes February*.
February is a mile-marker, congratulating you on making it this far. But at the same time, it’s like a warning. You’ll never make it. “News Flash,” says February. “Winter never ends.” Never? Some days it seems like February is right. Maybe the sun won’t come back. Maybe the clouds will be in charge from now on.
Maybe I’ll just have to get used to spruce trees being sharp. Maybe I’ll have to get used to icy mornings and slushy afternoons, mud and rain, and above all else the grey.
Grey. Lifeless grey, everywhere you look. Soul-sappingly Monotonous. It’s the monotony that does it, that pushes me over the edge. No green. No color worth mentioning at all. Cold, harsh, February; without life, without inspiration. It gets into you like a disease and leeches out the nutrients that should be on a one-way track to your soul. (Side affects of February may include: Grumpiness. Long stretches of silence. Increase of coffee intake without feeling any happier. Increased boredom, agitation, overall lack of inspiration and creativity, overwhelming depression. In short, February is a parasite that chomps into your brain-marrow.)
Cabin-Fever. Stir-Crazy. Call it what you want. I call it February Syndrome. 
It’s like wading through wet cement. Maybe you’ll get out, maybe you wont. It depends on whether you listen to the patches of blue, or the ocean of charcoal.
But here’s the good news.
(Spoiler warning)
February. Ends.
In fact, you’re most of the way through it already. Like a twilight that lasts for twenty-eight days, there’s sunlight on the other side. There’s color, somewhere out there. There’s a spring full of birds and a summer full of green grass. There is ice to put in your coffee, once you get there. A warm breeze to pat you on the back. Dehydration and sunburn; sweat and peeling skin. Lawn-mowing. 
For all the other groundhogs who may be reading this: you’re almost there. Just a little further. Tie up your scarves tight, if you want, or wear your flip-flops in protest, but either-way, February will end. It’s a tunnel, and the track runs through it, and it’s the only way to the other side of the mountains. The train keeps moving.
Until we reach the summer station, time to kick back. Turn up the Andrew Belle (always the answer) and pretend it’s not sad. Make another Americano, because you’ve earned it. Maybe a Latte, because you’re extra special. Tea, maybe, because you’ve already had three coffees today and its only noon. Maybe read a book. Maybe try to write one (good luck with that.)
Until February Ends,

*Proof: When the months were divided, February was decidedly the least favorite of all involved, and was therefore made to be the shortest. Which is also why leap years are worse than broken bones.
(Overall outcry has forced me to edit a previous statement: Apparently not everyone hates February. No, I don't know why.) 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Incendiary Musings: The Intro

             A new blog is just like every other blank page, waiting to be filled. I’ve gone through two now. Never complete, but running out of steam like a novel without a plot. Characters without themes die, though technically they were never alive at all. And now I’ve killed two.
So it’s time to try again. Thanks to MattWalsh , I was inspired to start it over, and this time attempt something a little different. Peel it back; unplug the instruments, and let the music play for itself, so to speak. Acoustify (second paragraph in, and I’ve already invented a new word). Trim off the gadgets, the pictures, the cool layouts, scrap all the ornaments and see if the tree is still pretty underneath. Who knows, maybe it won’t be. But if it’s not, then I don’t belong in the tree business anyway.
So here’s to having another go at it, but this time a bit differently. Content. Quality. Two things I am not very good at. A challenge. No more fully-auto, no more suppressive fire. Time to dial it back. Sniper-School. With words. Time to think harder, be deeper, and burn brighter.
Which, in turn, brings me to the new name. Incendiary Musings.
While I wish that I could take credit for this stroke of literary genius, I can’t. That goes completely to a Tweet I read from John Piper:

RT (@JohnPiper): "My heart grew hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke." Psalm 39:3 Our calling: incendiary musing.

Incendiary Musing. To ponder until we catch on fire. To admire until we are consumed. To be scorched and burned and incinerated by something greater than ourselves. And then, once consumed, to speak of the fire we have touched. Tried though I might, I couldn’t think of a better name than that.
So now that credit is given where credit is due, and now that a clear purpose has been stated, it’s time to sign off on the prologue and start the book. (No one reads the prologues anyway.)