life on the edge

copyright Dennis Maitland

Dennis Maitland, a photographer from Detroit, has made a hobby of taking shots of himself posing on rooftops, with feet dangling in the air. Looking at his belly-tickling pictures, I marvel at the fact that when he first started this project titled Life On The Edge, Dennis actually had a fear of heights. He couldn’t even climb ladders past 10 feet! But with every picture he took, he overcame his fear.

copyright Dennis Maitland

A great inspiring lesson from this chap in Detroit.

cat dreaming

I should be sleeping right now.

The next three weeks is going to be the culmination of a massive project that has taken almost nine months to build, create and stage. But less of that. And more of what I want to do with the time right after – yes, the idea of freedom has finally made me pause, think and dream.

First thing on my list of to-do’s?

To wake up, stretch… and stay in bed for the next few hours without worrying if I’d missed an email, call, text or whatever.

Next, have a cup of coffee and some rich chocolate biscuits, laze on the couch, read… till I fall asleep again.

Maybe after that, I’ll find the energy to finally exercise, something I’ve missed doing for a looooooong time.  I know The Mother used to be an expert at yoga. She could teach me. Well, if she could get off the couch too.

A long bath seems perfect, after this. Now that I think about it, I can’t remember the last time I took a really long bath. These days, it’s all about hopping in, washing and scrubbing and hopping out, rushing either to get out of the house (because I woke up late) or to get into bed (because I need my sleep).

And then back on the couch again (or the Mother’s bed) to watch one of her many DVDs. She recently begun watching Korean dramas, and while I can’t quite get into them yet, I understand why she likes them. There’s a good mix of humour, warmth and good old fashioned romance in their shows. Or I could convince her that The Walking Dead is fantastic telly. I wonder if she’ll believe me.

Finally, it’s off to bed again, after such an activity-filled day. I wonder what I’ll dream of then, with a day so packed. Seriously though, it’ll be a treat not dreaming about work, because they’ve begun invading my nights. Gah!

Only three more weeks to go.

I can’t wait.

“Books. Cats. Life is good.”

– Edward Gorey

 

 

what to do next

This is the most important decision in your career (or even your day).

It didn’t used to be. What next used to be a question answered by your boss or your clients.

With so many opportunities and so many constraints, successfully picking what to do next is your moment of highest leverage. It deserves more time and attention than most people give it.

If you’re not willing to face the abyss of choice, you will almost certainly not spend enough time dancing with opportunity.

– Seth Godin

Hot on the heels of my last post on lessons learned, I read this blinking light of a post by Seth Godin. And dear god, it’s like someone peered into my head and summed up all that I’m facing. What am I really going to do next? Dare I answer, I don’t know!

It’s a little tough when so many of life’s choices are not actually within my sphere to decide. But wait. Hold on. Am I giving myself excuses to shirk away from really deliberating over what I can do? Let’s start small:

I can decide what to do with my health. I am drinking close to 2 litres of water a day; a marked difference from my coffee and tea diet previously. And I have scheduled three runs for this week (dudes! you better not back out!). And I shall determine to sleep earlier. I need rest. So there. Health issues settled.

I can decide what to do with my current career. I am researching (okay, do conversations with people who’ve been there count?) and I am planning my schedule for the coming week, including a list of videos that I must watch because if I don’t feed, I can’t get inspired. I guess I could read a little more… (sniffle, bye bye magazines, hello thick boring books filled with technical jargon)

I can plan my finances a little better. I have avoided online shopping for a week. And haven’t actually bought anything off the racks for a while. I guess I could forgo my lattes, and cabs, and return my library books on time…

But ultimately, what do I want to do with this life I now have?

I want to get Seth Godin’s latest book We Are All Weird. Something about that title resonates with me…

the hurting world

15 minutes late for work, I got off the train at my usual station and joined the mob rushing towards the escalators. I had just turned my head to check my card, when a shadow at the corner of my eye made me look up.

Swish, swish, swish… He was a cleaner I hadn’t seen before.
Swish, swish, swish… Elderly, hunched and quietly doing his job, I’m not sure why but I was entranced by his lone figure.

A few minutes later, the crowd was gone but I was still standing there, hidden by the station’s signboard, watching him. My mouth was filled with words, but I was afraid to give them voice. My intellect didn’t quite know what to make of my heart’s odd behaviour.

I walked away.

*

Just as I reached the lift lobby, another cleaner walked past. He had a hole in his throat.

‘Throat cancer,’ the Mother said to me. ‘And because of the operation, he now has to breathe through that hole.’

‘How does he speak?’ I asked.

‘He doesn’t… well, not the way you and I do. He had to learn how to articulate through that hole.’

*

Walking through the corridor towards my desk, I passed by Crazy. She was a video editor that I worked regularly with.

‘Morning!’ I chirped but was completely ignored. Something’s not right…

I saw JapGirl and immediately asked her if she’d noticed anything about Crazy.

‘She’s going through something, but I’m not sure what,’ she replied with a sad smile. I understood that look. Crazy was one of JapGirl’s best friends.

‘Should we say something? Do something?’ I asked.

‘I’m not sure. It looks like she wants to be left alone.’

So I left her alone.

*

‘I am so sorry I’m late!’ the Dancer exclaimed as we sat down at our favourite eatery for lunch. ‘Things were just mad at work and I couldn’t get away.’

She was an hour late but it was fine with me. I had work to finish too, and truthfully, I was a tad reluctant to leave the office.

‘Don’t worry about it,’ I smiled as we tucked into our beef goulash. ‘So how have you been?’

And it all came pouring out – her problems with a team that she’d worked with for years, a horrid misunderstanding still unresolved, the sleepless nights that left her tired, the frustrations with her inability to dance because of her injury…

‘i just don’t know what to do!’ she wailed.

‘Then you’re in a safe place,’ I said. ‘You’re an accomplished woman. You’re famous because of what you’ve done in the past… I mean, come on! I can google you! How many people can I do a google search for information on credentials and history? But now, you find yourself in places where you can’t be strong… and while I know it’s frustrating, maybe this time, it’s about the journey, not the end-goal. Can I ask… what was your deepest desire when you first came in to church?’

‘I once asked myself that,’ she slowly stirred her cold soup, ‘And I had no answer. So I took a pen and began to draw. For reasons I didn’t understand then, I found myself drawing trees. Big, strong trees. One after another, till they became a huge forest. And then I got it. I wanted to grow people, to see them become strong trees, to help others who can’t do whatever it is they want to do.’

‘What do you think you’re learning, from all these things that are happening around you?’ I pressed in a little more.

‘I’m not sure… I just feel so out of control.’

‘Maybe that’s what you’re supposed to be learning,’ I smiled. ‘To let go. To not be in control but to let another greater power work through you instead.’

‘I think you’re right. I’ve never felt this way before…’ she said. Then with a loud wail, ‘But noooooo… it’s so difficult!’

We laughed and then I had to run. I was 30 minutes late for my next appointment.

*

Back-to-back meetings and coping with a shoot that was scheduled at the last minute, the day passed by and before I knew it, it was 8pm. With a sigh of relief, I packed my things and turned off the lights. Walking out, I passed by Crazy again but she looked no better from the morning.

‘Love you…’ I texted her but hours later, hadn’t received a reply.

*

Hurting people with untold stories. When do you leave them alone and when do you intrude into their world?

See the woman on the train, the man driving the cab you’re riding in, the guy seated at the bus-stop, the colleague beside you… there are hurting people everywhere.

‘Is there a reason why I was placed in this precise spot on earth?’ I asked the Dream Maker. We were watching the non-existent stars in our night sky.

‘What do you think?’ He asked.

‘I think there is. But how do I help anyone?’

‘Love them.’

‘But how?’ I wrinkled my brow.

‘Smile. Look at them in the eyes. Let the love be genuine. Sometimes, that’s enough for the day.’ He said.

‘That’s enough?’ I didn’t get it.

‘Build it daily, one brick at a time. You’ll know what to do when the time comes…’

‘Easy for you to say,’ I laughed, chucking Him on the head. ‘You’re God!’

‘And you’re Mine. What makes you think you won’t know otherwise?’

*

This time, I’m writing out the plan in them, carving it on the lining of their hearts.

– Hebrews 10:16 (MSG)

 

state of wonder

Woke up, washed the night away.
Made food disappear, painted my face.
Smelt the rain, rode on wheels
Pulled strings together, just like I did before.
Is there something wonderful, every single day?

*

The less we see the world around us, the faster the day passes by. I only noticed this phenomenon today as I tried to fill in my personal time sheet for last week. It scared me that I simply could not remember what I did a mere four days before.

Awakened to the fact that my moments were well and truly buried in the grave, I began watching and living in the now, purposefully noting people’s mannerisms, the words they said, food we ate, the chair I sat on… and the oddest thing happened. I grew happier. People are such funny creatures…

What would it be like if I were to live in a perpetual state of wonder? I asked myself. Will the world become a colour-filled playground for my fantasies? Will I find myself exchanging distrust and cynicism for belief?

I’m not sure if there’s a point to this exercise, but I’m going to try. I’ll find one thing each day to be mesmerized with and hopefully, be able to document it here. There’s nothing to lose. After all… if nothing changes, I’m already familiar with this life I know as mine.

*

Interestingly, I chanced upon this post by Seth Godin, that also talked about wonder (and anger).

What caused you wonder today?

women I’ve loved…

Reading, conversation, environment, culture, heroes, mentors, nature – all are lottery tickets for creativity. Scratch away at them and you’ll find out how big a prize you’ve won.

– Twyla Tharp

Through every personal evolution, I’ve noticed that there are some tendencies in me that refuse to budge. Whether it’s in design, style, principle or just personal taste… my preferences remain the same. ‘Why?’ I asked myself today, as I scanned a friend’s collection of writings and pictures with deep envy. ‘Why don’t I see life like she does?’

Is it a choice? But I do my best to stay open to all sorts of ideas.

Is it something we are born with? Unless I have access to great resources for an in-depth research, I will never know that one.

Is it how we were influenced through our pivotal years? That sparked off something in me, which was when I decided to review the women I’ve loved and admired.

1. Janis Joplin

‘I was a misfit. I read, I painted, I didn’t hate niggers.’

Janis Joplin was a singer/songwriter in the late 1960s, best remembered for her bluesy, heart-wrenching vocals and raw performances. Together with the psychedelic rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company, they released a song that became my theme for a year or so, titled Piece Of My Heart.

Something about her misfit nature clicked with me then, as a 16 year old girl. She was the oldest child among three children, so was I. She felt out of place in school, I felt out of place in life. She came from a Christian background, a place which I was trying to break free from. She sang with the choir, so did I. And because she was known as the woman who dared to be different, I decided that being different from my school mates wasn’t that bad after all.

Creating my own world of rhythm and blues, psychedelic rock and anything that involved the poets and writers in the Beat Generation, it didn’t hurt too bad that I couldn’t identify with the rest of my mates. It was okay. I had Janis and gang and they understood. Everything about their beliefs and outlook on life, I absorbed. It was also around that time that I began listening to Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Otid Redding and interestingly enough, Miles Davis.

*

2. Bjork

‘There’s no map to human behaviour.’

Although Bjork had been performing since the age of 11, and was also part of the Sugarcubes in the early 90s, I only started buying her records when she went solo. I had every album, single and collaboration she was involved in, as I was deeply mesmerized with her personality and music.

I was still studying then, and so, Bjork became my source of inspiration for sound, music and video productions. I was introduced to the remarkable works of Michel Gondry (he directed her music videos), listened to Tricky, Howie B, 808 state, and soon enough, the world of dance music opened up to me.

I managed to watch her perform twice and I remember leaving the concert exhilarated. Not because I finally had the chance to watch a woman I so greatly admired (although I must admit, I was right there, in front of the stage), but because I felt I’d caught something – a certain passion for life.

The greatest impact Bjork had on me though, was her hunger to work with different genres of music. There were no boundaries in her exploration of different styles, and though some projects didn’t seem as successful as others, I just grew in admiration of a woman who was unafraid to try anything.

*

3. Darlene Zschech


Having spent most of my teenage years running from the church, I finally walked through the doors of my local church in 1997, and was greeted by a new sound. A sound that I found liberating. A sound helmed by a team from Hillsong Australia, led by a worship leader named Darlene Zschech.

I loved her leadership on stage, the songs that she sang and the words that she wrote. It all seemed to come from one place – the heart. And because it was birthed in the deepest place of intimacy, I found myself identifying with her open vulnerability. I remembered the first time I actually met her face to face. I was assigned to write an article on her and my opening question was, ‘Standing on stage looking out at the thousands of people in front of you… what’s the first thought you have?’

She kept quiet, her head down. I grew worried. Did I do something wrong?

Then lifting her head, she looked at me with tears in her eyes, ‘I feel the power of His grace. His love. That He would call someone like me to do His work. There’s nothing in me that deserves this. Nothing. It’s just Him.’

Since then, I’ve had the chance to work with her on more occasions but nothing has changed. It’s still the same. Her life is lived with one purpose, a purpose that I’ve grown to share – that every breath we breathe, we do it for Him.

*

Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.

– Benjamin Franklin

There’s another woman I love deeply.

She was the first misfit – being the daughter of a Brigadier-General, she moved from location to location, never having enough time to from firm friendships, never really integrating with her surroundings. The classic loner, she read books, wrote and lived through music.

She was the first bohemian – while the rest of her counterparts studied business, accounting or became teachers, she pursued music, learning how to build and construct pianos. Leaving her home, she traveled to a little known place I now call my country, and established herself here as the first female piano tuner in the late 70s. I’m still in shock that she was the one who tuned Duke Ellington’s piano when he came to perform.

She was the first rebel – against her Japanese traditions, fighting to be an independent woman with a successful career.

She was a survivor – alone in an alien country, coping with a husband who cheated on her, dealing with a handicapped child (my second sister), from having a lot to having little… mother made home a place of refuge.

She was a nurturer – every where she went, she brought me along. When she cooked, I was seated on the kitchen table top, reading a book. When she went shopping, I was in her basket. When she went to church, I played in the gardens.

I found my identity as a woman, by watching my mother.

And therein lies my answer.

The person I am and the choices I make, the personal tastes I have… they were all cultivated by the influences I was exposed to, but instilled with deeper roots because of the mother I had.

breathe

‘Excuse me, I just want to ask… are you getting any wi-fi here?’ the elderly gentleman sitting beside me turned to ask. He’d been struggling for a while with his laptop and I’d just sat down, mobile in hand, as usual.

‘Yeah, I do get wi-fi here.’ I looked at my phone, just in case.

‘Well, do you mind helping me check the results of the FA cup on ESPN? You see, I just flew in from Australia and missed the whole thing.’ He looked troubled.

‘Sure!’ I replied, opening the browser on my phone. ‘You must be a huge football fan.’

‘Yeah, I am. I’d play if I still could, but as I’m already in my 70s, I doubt I’d do much good on the field.’

‘In your 70s? Wow! And still traveling around for work?’ I was astonished. ‘Why?’

‘I can’t stay still. I must keep moving on. I see my friends and they’re all hunched over in chairs, staring at their television sets… there’s no way I want to let myself get that way. You grow old when you have no goal, you know?’

I nodded, then read out the results in my best imitation of a newscaster.

‘Wait… are you the one always up there?’ He pointed at the stage.

‘Umm… yeah. Well, not much often these days anymore.’ And for the weirdest reason I can’t understand, I began talking about the past and how things had changed for me since then. It was oddly pleasant, chatting with this stranger.

‘Well, it was nice meeting you,’ he shook my hand before leaving. ‘And finally seeing you in the flesh.’

I chuckled. It was nice.

*

‘Oh no!’ I cried out, banging my head on the table.

‘What? What!’ JapGirl turned to look at me, before laughing.

‘I forgot to hook the photographer up with the project manager for a shoot that was supposed to happen yesterday! They were all on standby, ready for instructions and I clean forgot. Oh…’ I moaned. I was frustrated at how easily I’d let slip that important detail.

‘Can I be honest?’ JapGirl asked quietly. But these questions are not really questions. They just set you up for a statement. So I kept quiet.

‘I don’t think it’s surprising that you forgot that detail. You are simply handling too much.’ She said. ‘I’m here! You need to pass me some of your responsibilities…’

‘I do want to share the work,’ I sighed, lifting my head off the table. ‘It’s not that I want to hoard the work, it’s just that sometimes things roll too quickly to hand them over to anyone else.’

‘From what I see, your strength is in the big picture. Conceptualizing. Stories. And mine… well, let’s just say I suddenly have this insane desire to be the best coordinator in the world,’ she quipped.

‘You’re a darling, you know that?’ I laughed. ‘Okay, I’ll try. I swear I’ll do my best.’

‘Let’s start by letting me fix this problem with the photographer and manager.’ She whipped out her mobile. ‘Give me their numbers.’

‘Wait…’ I pleaded. ‘Can we start by getting some coffee?’

*

‘Hey! How have you been?’ Justin waved. ‘How’s work?’

‘Work’s been good. Very fulfilling…’ I said.

‘How’s the family?’ He continued.

‘Well, we’re in a transition phase right now as my mom’s leaving soon, so there are a couple of things I need to take care of while she’s gone.’

‘You look a little tired, but happy.’ He smiled.

‘I am a little tired.’ I shrugged, ‘But it’s all good.’

‘Hey… don’t mind me saying… I don’t know why but I feel I need to tell you this. You seem to take a lot on yourself.’ He frowned. ‘I’ve seen people who give and give… and reach the place where they give themselves out. Do you take time to withdraw? To be on your own and quieten down with no thoughts whatsoever?’

‘I try…’ I replied. But honestly, I’ve never been without my thoughts. Whether it’s writing, or reading, playing games or sleeping, my brain is always either involved with what I’m doing, or thinking completely irrelevant thoughts.

‘You need to recharge.’ He said. ‘Really. Do it.’

*

Some days, conversations around me feel as if they were pre-conceived. It’s as if while I was sleeping, they had somehow gathered together, discussed the theme for the day and dispersed to their separate hours, merely waiting to be lived out.

I’ve never been one to stay still. As a child, I was climbing the windows before I knew how to walk. As a girl, I was singing before I could complete whole sentences. As a young woman, I wanted to fly before I had even begun building my foundations.

I always wanted more.

But maybe… just maybe… I really am beginning to do too much and the time has come for me to stand still.

To breathe.

*

‘Listen – are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?’

– Mary Oliver

 

a new world

Look back in silence, the cradle of your whole life. There in the distance, losing its greatest pride. Nothing is easy, nothing is sacred, why? Where did the bow break? It happened before your time. And there were people there, lovely as you’ve ever been. Tonight, you can start again. Laughing in the open air, have yourself another dream.

‘Mother, it’s cold here.’
‘Father, thy will be done.’
‘Thunder and lightning are crashing down. They got me on the run, direct me to the sun.’

Redemption keeps my covers clean tonight. We can start again.

– Brandon Flowers

*

‘What do you see, when you look at me?’ the girl asked Him. She wiped her tears with the sleeves of her shirt.

‘Who do you see when you look in the mirror?’ He asked her. She sighed. She knew the right answer but it didn’t help ease the frustrations building up inside. The truth was, she felt ugly and heavy. Pulling away slightly from Him, the anger began to creep in her veins. Didn’t He understand? Why wasn’t He helping her? What was with all the questions that He posed in reply to her questions? She just wanted plain answers.

Standing up, she walked to the edge of the cliff and looked out over the sea.

‘Can I fly? Or am I too weighed down now for my wings?’ her lips curled into a sneer. She tried to unfurl hers but they hadn’t been used for a long time, the joints sticky and unyielding to her mind’s command.

‘Do you remember how the worlds came into existence?’ He said.

‘Yes,’ she nodded, defiantly refusing to look at Him. ‘It began with a song. A song that You sang.’ She recited the words, echoing a distant memory of bed time tales and sunlit stories. ‘You sang the colours into place, split the waters from the land. You called each creature into existence and moulded the humans. We were the only ones you used Your hands to craft.’

‘You’re my child, and like her father… you have Me in you. What does that say about you?’

She stared out at the waters crashing on the rocks, her eyes unblinking against the winds. Silent.

‘You have forgotten the power of the song. You are a child of the Creator and yet, you have forgotten the strength and weight of your words,’ He continued. ‘The world you live in is a world you’ve created entirely by yourself. The waves you are watching with intense fury now are waves that merely reflect the state of your heart. They react to you.’

‘And me? What about me?’ She whirled around and kicked the ground. ‘Are you saying that I am a creation of my own doing? I thought You moulded me, breathed life into me! What am I? Tell me!’

‘You are life because I made you that way. Yes, you are right. I designed you with extreme care and love. But who you become… that is something that you create. That is the power a parent gives His child – the power to fashion a dream.’

Staring at her, He still saw the beauty, made more furiously gorgeous as she stood, the wind whipping her hair like tendrils of smoke all around. Her eyes burned with a deep amber glow and He loved her more still.

‘Can I fly?’ She asked again.

‘Who do you say you are?’ He asked her in return. He wanted to say more but no. This was her world and He refused to interfere in her rebirth.

She didn’t answer but began walking to the edge of the cliff and stood there for what seemed like ages. What was she doing? Every fibre in His being longed to know for she captivated Him. What rhythm was her heart beating now?

And then He saw it before He heard the first strains of her song.

*

For death and life are in the power of the tongue;

And they that love it shall it the fruit thereof.

– Proverbs 18:21

 

i want to fly

‘Is there anything you can’t do?’ JapGirl asked.

I had no answer. She has just disrupted my private, mental discourse on:

1. why I should be happy with the way things are
2. and yet, how I feel left out that I’m not in the thick of things
3. which in turn, causes be to feel guilty that I’m not grateful for all that I have.

‘I can’t fly,’ I quipped.

‘You’re able to anything you want. But yes, you can’t fly…’ she said, before ducking her head to squint at her laptop.

I decided to make mention that I missed being a part of the production crew to Cutesy.

‘I miss it all, being in the thick of things,’ I said, during a break at our 7-hour long rehearsal tonight.

‘Stop being everywhere,’ she said. ‘Just focus on one thing. And this time, you’re supposed to be on stage.’

‘But I miss production…’

‘You look good on stage. Stay there.’

And like the obedient person I am, I did. My role in this weekend’s recording is to conduct the choir. It is a privilege and I am happy doing what I do but there’s this disease I have. It’s called I-want-the-world syndrome. I wish I could do more, be more, get involved in everything but… I have 24 hours. Maybe they are all right. It’s time to focus on getting deeper and more intricately skilled in one field. For once in my life, I’ve been given the opportunity to become an expert as opposed to my current Jill-of-all-trades status. I am returning back to ‘school’.

And so, I have decided that for the next few months, I’ll be the best damn makeup artist student the school has ever seen.

I start my new course in November and at the end of it all, should be sufficiently qualified to make people beautiful for the stage, editorial shoots and video productions. Making people beautiful, I suppose, is the next step up from styling them. I am terribly excited at the prospect of returning to ‘school’ and getting my makeup kit. Already, I’m listing out the friends I want to practice on, the looks I want to try out and the potential that lies in this training.

Dissatisfaction with life – is it a problem or a healthy hunger for greater things?

*

‘I can’t eat that!’ Neesh exclaimed, pointing at the piece of brownie I was holding.

‘Why not?’ I mumbled, my mouth filled with exquisite fudge. ‘There’s an entire box of them there.’

‘I’ve put on weight,’ she replied, before sticking out her tummy. ‘Look! It’s awful when a skinny girl has a paunch.’

I rolled my eyes. I was nearly twice her size and she was telling me she was fat? Five minutes later, I spied her with a brownie in hand.

‘What happened to your I can’t eat that?’ I smirked.

Neesh giggled. ‘Well… brownies make me happy. And I decided, I’d rather be happy.’

‘Good for you,’ I smiled.

Happiness. For her, it was the brownie. For me, it’s every moment I decide to thoroughly enjoy what I’m doing and to stop casting glances and what else I want to do. Maybe that’s when I can get satisfied with what I have in life.

*

It’s 2.30am and time to head to bed with my questions. One thing I’ve learnt from my trip to Nepal – some questions are never meant to be answered in this lifetime.

It’s time to see the answers that surround me and instead, find the right questions for them.

such a perfect day…

I had a day to myself and for once, I didn’t choke it with plans.

‘Is it normal to feel this lazy?’ I asked the Mother.

‘Lazy?! We just worked nearly 14 hours yesterday. I think it’s normal to feel exhausted,’ she sniffled in reply. The flu bug had just bitten her.

Her words eased the guilt.

I left the house for a quick errand and thereafter, decided to walk from the Botanical Gardens all the way into town. It was a long walk but I donned my shades, plugged in to Kim Walker/Jesus Culture and began, what I would call, my perfect day.

I watched people, browsed many racks of clothing on sale and walked even more, cocooned in my world of abandonment in worship. It was sheer freedom. No one approached me, no one bothered with me (save a few curious glances at the girl who bopped her head to music they couldn’t hear) and smiled when a song hit a raw, emotional note in me.

As I stepped in to Topshop (and got ready to actually buy something), a song that I’d already heard many times over suddenly rang out clear in my ears. As I think back to that moment now, I can still see each frame with crystal clarity.

A brightly lit place with pounding music…
I am watching the stylish ladies huddled around the clothes…
Do they feel self-conscious? I wonder…
I remember my battle against insecurity every time I’m in a crowd…
I recall using clothes to define me…
I feel again the emotions when I wear something wonderful…
I browse the clothes too, searching for that feeling…
I hold a yellow top…
I hear the song…
I stand still amidst the babble of humanity that blurs in movement all around…
I don’t move, transfixed.

Life hit the pause button and realized why it didn’t matter anymore if my personal style wasn’t up-to-date. These things didn’t make me beautiful. I stood there with that piece of cloth in my hands for the longest time, staring off into space with a quiet smile…

Words can never say the way He says my name. He calls me lovely.

Lovely! I looked all around at the people rushing for new clothes, new looks, new images… did they feel that loveliness too?

No one ever sees the way He looks at me. He sees me holy.

Right there in Topshop, no one was watching me. To them, I was insignificant. But not Him…

Words can never hold this love that burns my soul. Heaven holds me.

I felt my insides explode with warmth as my surroundings melted away and I found myself encircled in His arms…

You would not believe the way He touches me. He burns right through me.

I began to feel the stirrings of a new desire, a longing to get away from the noise, the busyness…

And I could not forget every word He said. He always knew me.

I can’t forget. He never lets me. Even when I try to better myself with new clothings, new habits, new ideals, new rules for living… the truth is, it doesn’t matter. He already knew me at my worst and continues to love me with His best.

Almost apologetically, I put the item back onto the racks and walked out, hugged by a Man who saw me so beautiful. The rest of the day passed in an exquisite blur. I was high. But made one final stop at Borders to grab some magazines before heading home.

*

It was exactly what I needed today. A hug.

The past weekend was one filled with a certain despair. Dark thoughts ran through my head when I least expected and I know it may sound weird – as I’m always surrounded by people – but I’d been feeling very weighted down by an inexplicable sense of loneliness.

With just one song, everything changed.

I tasted again, the sweetness of acceptance.

Can it be real for others, what was made real for me today? I feel as though I’m bursting with the call: Come hear the Dream Maker’s serenade! He makes it all worthwhile. He colours in the greys with His love saturated touch. He longs to hold us tight…

And suddenly, I want to tell a bewildered generation that He dances and sings over them with abandon… as He does for me.

Can you see it?

Can you hear it?

Can you feel it?

It’s His love… and He’s calling out for you…

[Words and music by Jesus Culture/Kim Walker]