Archive for January, 2011

In Remembrance

Posted: January 30, 2011 by zacharyandgillian in January 2011

My grandmother gave me my first Bible when I was little.

I don’t really remember exactly when.  I just know that it’s been on my bookshelf for as long as I can remember.  It’s always occupied that “first book” spot: you know the one.  Topmost shelf, all the way to the left.  For English readers, which I am, it is the first book on the shelf like the first letter on a page.  Over the years, I’ve collected a lot of books – classic literature, escapist novels, textbooks and reference works.  My bookshelf grew to a bookcase, and that bookcase eventually found itself surrounded by stacks of books that longed for a place on the rack.  Books that didn’t quite make the cut.  But my first Bible, it was always there.  Topmost shelf, all the way to the left.

Her faith was important to her.  Very important.  She gave a bible to every one of her grandchildren, each with passages inked into the front that she’d picked out especially for us.  I remember that every time I’d visit her, I’d hope that she wouldn’t ask me about religion or church.  I didn’t believe, you see.  I didn’t even read the bible until I was 18 or 19.  I never came to believe in Christ as a savior or Lord.  And normally, I was quite open about that.  I’ve got lots of pagan, atheist, and Christian friends, and we all get along famously.  But there was something in the seriousness of her faith that made me not want to confront her.  It’s not that I was scared, so much as I didn’t want to hurt her.  I always got the impression that she would be hurt if I had to tell her I didn’t believe.

She’s gone now.  Has been for some time.  But the bible on my shelf remains.  Not only does it remind me of her, but it reminds me of the seriousness of her faith.  She took things seriously.  And no matter what your belief system, that deserves reverence.  The core of who a person is deserves reverence.

That is holy.

My friend recently had someone pass away.  I didn’t know her.

When I was asked to write something in memory to her, as only a mild suggestion, that was the first thing to enter my mind: I didn’t know anything about her.  But the more I thought about it the more I realized I did know something about this person:  I knew that they had moved Gillian to ask me.

That suggests something important.  Her core moved people.

When I agreed, but then didn’t come up with anything, I learned something else about this person.  That week, and the weeks after the date we had set, I fell into a creative slump.  And the important thought of remembering a person through art passed into oblivion.  We do this all the time – an upcoming birthday that we say will be a great party turns into a lackluster event, passed without notice.  A friend in the hospital becomes an inconvenience to visit, and is out again literally before we know it.  These events which hallmark notes as important dates seem to amount to little more than nuisances to our real passions and plans.  And the fact that it happens all the time and that I didn’t know anything about her made it even easier for me to sweep the project under the rug.  After all, I had my own miseries, problems, successes, and adventures to worry about.

What I learned is that Gillian was not interested in sweeping this one under the rug.  She came after me, politely and lovingly and with no two minds about it.  Either I was serious or this wasn’t going to happen.

See, we live in a culture where time is a product.  We spend it, we waste it, and we build it.  And this friend had reminded Gillian that we don’t spend time on things that are worthwhile – we make time for them.  We don’t scrimp and save and piecemeal it together; no, for the important stuff, we fucking invent time.

I’ve been doing a lot of spending myself lately.  Spending instead of inventing.  And all the while, I’ve been thinking that I’ve just been mismanaging my portfolio.  Investing my time in bad stocks, so to speak.  But then Gillian told me how this friend had affected her, and that effected me.

I’m reminded of the phrase about improvement: “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”  Now of Time I think: if a man likes fish, let him buy it.  But if he loves fish, he should not then scrimp and save so that he can buy more of it, nor should he look for where he can buy it in bulk for cheaper.  No – if he loves it, he should learn to fish.

I’m sure this woman who has passed – Crystal Marie Nilsen – was an incredible person.  Personally, I didn’t know her.  But I’ve come to know something about her, and how she’s influenced my friends, and as a result, how she’s helped influence me.

That deserves reverence.

In Memory.

Photo By: Gillian Berger
Writing By: Zachary Webster
In memory of Crystal Marie Nilsen

Starting Points

Posted: January 5, 2011 by zacharyandgillian in January 2011

They say that this is a new year.  They say that this is a new time.  They will tell you things like “today is the first day of the rest of your life,” and “carpe diem.”

But I don’t want to start with They.  I want to start with you.  I want to start with me.  I want to start with us.  I want to start in a place that lets the world fade away into a meaningless assortment of existential quandaries.  I want to start where we all start: eternity.

I am talking about that that fantastical little line between yesterday and tomorrow.  Between the minutes that denote the passing from yesterday into tomorrow, we exist.  In between obligations, when we are free from the bonds and weight that we have so fashionably chained to our minds, we flourish.  Jobs and titles, possessions and liabilities are exchanged for hopes and dreams, desires and expectations.  And the only thing we ever own is an understanding of ourselves.

That’s where we start.  Because that’s the time when we really know what’s important to us, and what’s important to our world.  There is a magic there that is unexplainable.  There are no pictures to open a window into this place, and there are no words to leave a cookie-crumb path in its direction.  No, if you have been there, you remember it.  If you are there, you know it.  And if you will be there, you have faith in it.

And we’re all capable of it.  Of course we are.  The light can be true, the sky can be blue and you can be you.

So be there.  Take the moment that is timed by mere minutes and seconds, and let it transform into a character building catharsis.  Conform to the biblical act of gaining everything by losing it.  And enjoy, as the world drains away, the feeling of reality washing over you.

Here, there is no calendar, and everything is real.  Here, I am home.

A toast.

Raise your metaphysical glasses ladies.  Raise your spiritual arms, boys.  And toast to what’s real to you.  Don’t toast to a new year, or an old year, if your heart’s not in it.  Toast to happiness.  Toast to sex.  To booze.  To drugs.  To love and joy and giddy school-girl giggles.  Toast to tomfoolery, and going shot for shot.  Toast to toasting, and then toast some more.

Raise your souls and raise your skirts.  Toast to being.  BE.  Forgive yesterday and forget tomorrow.

Start with eternity.

Writing:  Zach Webster
Photo to come on Wednesday by Gillian Berger!