Sunday, June 19, 2005

random significance

As a rule, I am a very ordered person. Schedules, structures, standards, rules, and routines... I tend towards the undeniably rational, logical, and organized. Nevertheless, I cannot escape the beauty and joy in those things that exist solely in the realm of the random.

Memory, for instance, is random -- why some memories remain and others fade into oblivion, leaving strange and inexplicable gaps in the fabric of our lives... Nature is unpredictable -- volcanoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and even the basic patterns of sun and rain are essentially random... Many forms of modern art have capitalized on the intricacy and beauty of the random... And of course, people are random. Perhaps some more than others. But in every human being, our emotion and behavior simply transcend logic and structure. And this is much of what makes life so interesting, so beautiful, and so meaningful.

And like the basic randomness of life and memory themselves, a moment's pause allows random images from a lifetime fill my mind in an unpredictable dance of light, sound, and emotion -- composing and orchestrating a masterpiece of meaning and context...

I am surprised to realize how many of these random memories include my father. How much my Dad has influenced me, shaped me, and defined me... I have random memories of a thousand conversations, a million interactions, and a nearly infinite store of emotions. I remember how much of a random streak runs through my Dad, himself. It was the kind of thing that would (and still can) make me and my brothers and sister laugh at times: walking in on a living room conversation while randomly swatting at an invisible gnat... a request for dancing answered by a slow, rhythmic, random swaying... Silly moments, funny moments... Yet as I think on my life and my father, in a random fashion, I am reminded how much these random moments carry significance and purpose -- unbeknownst to deepest consciousness at the time, and perhaps still not completely realized, but indelibly captured and replayed for the rest of life's days.

...I remember discovering water striders on the par course in Lancaster, exploring and learning together with Jay, and Anna, and Dad...

...I remember Sunday mornings, listening to by Dad singing "Moses" or "Mister Simon" or "The Preacher and the Bear" -- his smooth tenor filling the halls of small sanctuaries, combining art and music and storytelling with faith...

...I remember running races at rest stops somewhere off an interstate in Midwest America, just doing something to break up the monotony of an extended road trip -- the simple, side-line moments of an entire vacation that become the only surviving memory...

...I remember playing basketball -- ah, the basketball. In the garage of the house on South Gamble. In the parking lot of the First Baptist Church (watch out for that poison ivy if the ball skirts off behind the backboard). In the early hours of the morning at the Berean Family Life Center. My Dad taught me to play basketball, and I picked up so much in the process. Even today, I feel that basketball helps me to process my emotions, to experience community, and to develop my mind and my body...

...I remember catching lightning bugs in the "Back Forty" of the house on Old Potossi -- experiencing a sense of wonder. Attainable, experiential wonder...

...I remember building a fort in the woods, dragging out an old armchair (which later became a hornet's nest!), carefully painting a sign to mark our territory -- becoming creators, innovators, warriors, and protectors...

...I remember conversations about the birds and the bees, conveniently timed for a captive audience during the course of an extended car ride -- meaningful communication even when it's uncomfortable...

...I remember words spoken at my wedding -- weaving the tapestry of our family's legacy and reminding me where I've come from and where I'm going...

The memories are many and varied. And they are indubitably random. Yet they inexplicably define me and shape who I am. In a strange sort of equation, these random experiences actually add up and make sense. In a sense, even my sense of structure and analysis are built upon this foundation of random significance. There's no part of who I am, or who I am becoming, that is not informed by who I've been, and by who and where I've come from. Random it may be; but not meaningless. So I am thankful. And proud. And captured by the wonder of it all.

3 Comments:

At 12:28 AM, Blogger Jason Slack said...

I've enjoyed getting to know you and then getting to know more about your family. It's so interesting to know a person first and then work backward toward their roots. I love seeing your dad's sense of humor subtly influence yours and Jay's. You have a great family!

 
At 10:01 AM, Blogger Eric Asp said...

Jason, thanks for the comment ;-)

I agree that learning about a person's family does a lot to illuminate and understand the person himself. And I agree that I have a great family!

 
At 10:19 PM, Anonymous mom said...

What a lovely tribute to your dad!

 

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