a new obsession

a new obsession of mine lately is penn and teller. I’ve seen one of their vegas shows live.- really fantastic. . . funny, thought provoking, sometimes dark and twisted. . . and simply amazing. i’ve rented a handful of their showtime programs, ‘bullshit,’ i’ve scoured for video of their appearances on other shows. . . and i bought a book of their fun tricks to play on friends, which i doubt i will ever have the chance/ talent to pull over on anyone. i have a fond distance memory of wanting to see them while they were in boston, but i probably couldn’t afford it at the time. i was standing on the corner of tremont and boylston waiting to cross when i finally looked up from the ground, and there, standing next to me was a giant of a man (especially compared to my ‘just over 5 foot’ stature). . . penn, also waiting to cross the street. it wasn’t till years later that i got a chance to see them live.

they share some pretty strong beliefs. . . though i doubt they are any stronger than anyone elses. . perhaps i’m just not used to hearing such a different side of the story told so fiercely, boldly, and, well. . eloquently. i’ve found that i’m very open to their argument, perhaps not taking it as a whole, but taking it in nonetheless. i just started listening to a newer radio show that penn has on free fm. . . i’m amazed by the intelligent grasp he uses while tossing ideas and stories about without ever sounding above human error. well. . . just thought i’d share. . .

this is penn’s essay for npr’s, ‘this i believe.’ the whole thing is is great. . . but i bolded in one section that really strikes me.

I believe that there is no God. I'm beyond atheism. Atheism is not believing in God. Not believing in God is easy -- you can't prove a negative, so there's no work to do. You can't prove that there isn't an elephant inside the trunk of my car. You sure? How about now? Maybe he was just hiding before. Check again. Did I mention that my personal heartfelt definition of the word "elephant" includes mystery, order, goodness, love and a spare tire?
So, anyone with a love for truth outside of herself has to start with no belief in God and then look for evidence of God. She needs to search for some objective evidence of a supernatural power. All the people I write e-mails to often are still stuck at this searching stage. The atheism part is easy.
But, this "This I Believe" thing seems to demand something more personal, some leap of faith that helps one see life's big picture, some rules to live by. So, I'm saying, "This I believe: I believe there is no God."
Having taken that step, it informs every moment of my life. I'm not greedy. I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough. It has to be enough, but it's everything in the world and everything in the world is plenty for me. It seems just rude to beg the invisible for more. Just the love of my family that raised me and the family I'm raising now is enough that I don't need heaven. I won the huge genetic lottery and I get joy every day.
Believing there's no God means I can't really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That's good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around.
Believing there's no God stops me from being solipsistic. I can read ideas from all different people from all different cultures. Without God, we can agree on reality, and I can keep learning where I'm wrong. We can all keep adjusting, so we can really communicate. I don't travel in circles where people say, "I have faith, I believe this in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my faith." That's just a long-winded religious way to say, "shut up," or another two words that the FCC likes less. But all obscenity is less insulting than, "How I was brought up and my imaginary friend means more to me than anything you can ever say or do." So, believing there is no God lets me be proven wrong and that's always fun. It means I'm learning something.
Believing there is no God means the suffering I've seen in my family, and indeed all the suffering in the world, isn't caused by an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn't bothered to help or is just testing us, but rather something we all may be able to help others with in the future. No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future.
Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-O and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.


canyon of thought

i’m thinking that i’ll actually post this once i get home, unless i make a pit stop somewhere with wi-fi. you see, as i’m writing this i have no internet connect. . . my cell phone is digitally roaming, so i turned it off two days ago. i’ll turn it back on sometime tomorrow (monday) while i’m driving.

this is my 5th time to the grand canyon. i have an aunt and uncle who used to live directly in the village. i visited them with my family twice. the second time to see their wedding on the north rim. the first two visits were only about 6 months apart. yeah. . . in fact it was over easter the first time. i remember swapping decorated eggs with a woman in our train car. and the trip for their wedding was in september i think. well, definitely within a year.

my third time through i was traveling with two friends, james and val, on our way to san francisco after college. i fought them a bit to get here. they weren’t feeling great about paying extra in mileage on our moving van, and the canyon was a bit out of the way. we’d already driven way far to get to ‘carhenge’. . . i threw a little ‘erika rational’ and pouty-ness their way-. . . and we ended up spending the day in the area. my uncle met up with us (i can’t remember if my aunt was there too, or if she was working) and bought us some lunch. he shared a story about how he was on his way to san francisco when he ended up at the canyon. he needed to make some money in order to continue his journey, and that was 20 years ago. i think that story might have sparked each of us a bit, to get back on the road. each of us had invested into apartments already. . . besides, the next stop was vegas.

the 4th time was also within 6 months of its previous visit. . . in fact, just about 4 months. san francisco wasn’t really working out for me, and my friend nana flew out to help me drive to my next job in virginia. she also didn’t want to take the time to stop at the canyon. we were on a much more strict schedule. (james, val and i took 9 days to get cross country, seeing a bunch of different sites, nana and i only had three days.) nana’s rational was that she only wanted to go if she had the time to spend a couple of days there. i have an understanding for this rational. . . it is a place that deserves a certain reverence and quality of time. however, if you’ve never seen it, as nana hadn’t, even a couple of hours, hell- even a proper few minutes is worth it. so. . . nana was more stubborn then james and val, so i had to work around her. it was my shift to drive, and nana had fallen asleep. i drove us into the park and got about 10 minutes from a viewing point before i woke her and gave her the ‘option’ of turning back. we probably didn’t stay much more than an hour. i remember taking a picture of her creating an ‘eye’ shadow by placing her hands over her head and her elbows away from her body in the ‘watchtower.’ i can’t totally remember if she was thankful or not, but i don’t remember her giving me a hard time about it, so i guess it didn’t go over too badly.

so here i am, a 5th time. i’ve come alone. i really just wanted the quiet and space. i don’t remember staying in the park before- though we must’ve stayed not too far away when i was here with my family. and now, i’m only a quarter mile walk from the rim. it’s chilly and awesome, in the true meaning of the word- as my earth science teacher/ godmother would say, oh, and eddie izzard.

i guess other people might view this ‘vacation’ as sad, or dramatic. yeah, i’m turning 30. truthfully, i would’ve come any other time. . . quiet, solitude, and a pretty view is how i’d like to spend 1/2 of my time. . . but having a birthday seems to give allowance to take a vacation day off work, and get part of the trip as a gift :) thanks mom and dad!

and i’d be lying if i said i didn’t hope to get anything from it. isn’t this the part in the movie where the girl bumps into the man of her dreams? or is it the part where her true purpose in life is revealed? (of course! i can’t wait to release my inner park ranger!) or maybe it’s the part where she gets chased out of her room by a rabid squirrel while in her skimpy pj’s, and a hilarious sequence of barely believable events ensues. guess it depends on the genre. so what really happened?

i got up late and packed,- just like the commercial. . . i OVER-packed, and then under utilized, i ran some errands, and didn’t leave till about 12:30. (this is how i like to start a vacation. . . no rushing) i got in around 9pm and watched a couple of episodes of alias. i got up to watch the sunrise. i walked about 5 to 6 miles of the rim trail. i got sleepy, so i went back to my room and took a nap. then i went back, wandered around while watching the sunset. . . it was a little clouded over, so not as exciting. i read a little, watched some lame tv, and had a restless night. i had hoped for flying dreams of the canyon. . . but instead had a stressful dream about work (an ongoing email correspondence between my summer boss and i that will determine whether i go back to electrics or not this summer.) this morning i got up late, and didn’t go walking around the canyon until noonish. i got back out to the watchtower, which was no where near i remember it being. i drove out of the park to watch the IMAX movie about the canyon this afternoon, and then came back to watch the sunset again. no clouds, much better. my hotel neighbors were engrossed in the superbowl as i returned. i’ve eaten mostly yogurt, string cheese, popcorn, cashews, bananas, and some cookies- things out of my cooler. and i’ve had my period the entire weekend- whoop-dee-dooo! if i get out early enough tomorrow, i want to drive through the painted desert, and maybe get out to the meteor crater. it had occurred to me that i could call this trip, ‘my big hole tour.’ :)

see. . . nothing exceptional, no epiphanies. . . maybe a little perspective and inner quietness.

nearly everyone i know in theatre goes through this roller coaster every few months. . . as they assess if they are doing something thats ‘worth it.’ the job demands a lot of your time, your physical strength, your stamina, your emotions. . . and sometimes you wonder, is it worth all the -no pun intended- ‘drama?’ what i come back to is that this job that i do isn’t hurting anyone- as far as i’m aware. i can even see where someone might argue that we are being helpful- in that art can be therapeutic, uplifting, and even educational. . . but i won’t argue that just now. there are times when i really, really, really love it. . . now just isn’t one of those times. i guess i lack focus.

it’s interesting. i have a religious friend, also in theatre. she’s moving cross country and taking a job with another theatre shortly. she was concerned about the move and for her, it finally came down to,’ -this is what god wants of me. he must have a plan, therefore, it will work out.’

i don’t have that clarity, or luxury. i like to think i ‘go with the flow’. . . the wu wei philosophy. but in truth, i make the decisions, the moves, and even the anti-moves. . . which have their own results. i can’t blame or thank anyone but me in the end. no footprints, no sand, no trite story. . . HA!, REM’s ‘losing my religion’ just came into play on my running playlist! that’s rich. so, with no solid beliefs or church to turn to. . . i’m here, at grand canyon. there’s a quote that i’m going to mess up severely, something about ‘i am home to thousands of cathedrals’.

how’s that other saying go? hope for the best, expect the worst. (-that’s about the best thing i learned from the SAT’s)

so i came expecting nothing, but hoping for some perspective. don’t know if i found it yet. i’m envious of people who trip across life epiphanies like cracks in the sidewalk. . . hard to miss. i guess my style is a little more like glow in the dark stars. they are charged and glowing, but you don’t notice till the sun goes down. . . ahhh. . . too many metaphors! moving on. . .

what have i had? lots of music. what is it that people alone carry with them while walking around the rim of the grand canyon? their ipod. that’s right. . . and i saw the rather distinguishing earpieces all over the place. my walk on the rim trail was spent creating a ‘grand canyon’ playlist. i’d pick a handful of songs. . . test them out while i walked, then add to them while taking in a view. sure, i could’ve filled it with bach, mozart, john williams, and- isn’t there a grand canyon suite? but no. . . it’s mostly ‘contemporary’ stuff. a little on the cheesy, mellow side. . . but not a bad mix.

and what’s left? i’m hoping for a decent night’s sleep. tomorrow, i’d like to pack a leave without rushing, but not run late. i’d like to sit and view the canyon while sipping some tea. . . and then i hope to stop at the crater and the painted desert before getting home to do laundry and such before work on tuesday.

sorry ‘bout the randomness. blame it on the canyon.

addendum. . .

at home and must get to sleep. but, i did sip tea while sitting at the rim. i did stop at meteor crater. i drove through the painted desert/ petrified forest park. i turned 30.