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Expectations, Contentment, and This Present Beauty

There is this wonderful new thing going around the interwebs– “What Would I Say?” This Facebook app is hilarious, captivating, and might teach us something about creativity as well.

Now, I don’t use many Facebook apps, if any. Words with Friends was fun for a while, but I’ve never Farmvilled or Zombied with my account. I saw this one in one of my Facebook groups filled with rabbits and artists– Hutchmoot.  (If you need further explanation, let me know, I’d be happy to tell you about them.) :)

Someone posted this link with the caption: “Giant thread: activate.”  Right now the thread has 212 comments, all of them beautiful and ridiculous.  If you click this link, it will take you to what-would-I-say.com– from there, you connect to your Facebook account (don’t worry, they don’t collect information) and then click the button “Generate Status.”  From there, it works its magic.

What it will do is search all your Facebook status updates and pull together words and phrases from the collection and put them together in a strange, usually nonsensical way.  Here is a few of them from me:

From a distance and welcomed it.

EvanBot

My phone’s name is quite proud of sorrow, I rest in Christ.

-EvanBot

 Advising. Soon

-EvanBot

 I’m case you talk to some Weight Watchers right now don’t tell me what you are, you wanted to travel the Decker clan, Caedmons Call, Common Grounds, I responded that I am incorrect.

-EvanBot

 Time for Road Trip with Christopher Paul Cleveland at Kroger!

-EvanBot

 I can’t use your mercies are as Day

-EvanBot

 As you can see, some of these statuses are unreadable. But some of them are strangely elegant. Imagine this poem:

I can’t Use

Your mercies are as Day

And the brevity of “Advising. Soon.” conveys a great deal of meaning and opens up a field of questions. What advising? Where? Who? When? How soon?  Is this good or bad?

Even this: “My phone’s name is quite proud of sorrow, I rest in Christ.”  It is so strange, and yet conveys interesting images and ideas.

 Go ahead and try it.  If you want a more specific description of how it works, read this from the website: “Technically speaking, it trains aMarkov Bot based on mixture model of bigram and unigram probabilities derived from your past post history.”  So… yeah.  I don’t understand it, but I love it.

I love it because it breaks the bonds of logic and comprehension. It muddles words and phrases without care of meaning and spits out something muddy and redemptive. It does what a true artist should do. I know too often I get stuck in a rut and can’t think of good words (case in point, couldn’t think of a better word than “good”) or better chord progressions (D-G-A-G can’t ever get old, right?) or pictures to sketch (“Time to make another whirly swoop…”) We can get so stuck in our heads that we don’t see things for what they could be. We set expectations for ourselves that limit our ability to think freely and dream dreams.

For example, I saw this link today on Facebook and thought I would share it. An artist let her daughter complete some of her sketches– though she put up a fight at first.  When she finally gave in, the daughter drew the bodies for each head and the result was magical.

By Mica and Myla Hendricks

Mr Beever By Mica and Myla Hendricks

ABC By Mica and Myla Hendricks

Go to Mica’s website for more art: busymockingbird.com

She had this to say about the collaboration with her daughter: Those things you hold so dear cannot change and grow and expand unless you loosen your grip on them a little… if you have a preconceived notion of how something should be, YOU WILL ALWAYS BE DISAPPOINTED.  Instead, just go with it, just ACCEPT it, because usually something even more wonderful will come out of it.”

I know this to be true as an artist– I write my story or my song and in the end it’s not how I hoped it would go. Even more with sketches– I always have an idea in mind but can’t get it on paper.

I also know this to be true as a human being– “If you have a preconceived notion of how something should be, YOU WILL ALWAYS BE DISAPPOINTED.” How many times have I expected a relationship to get better, an event to go better, a project to be completed sooner?  There is something to be said about setting goals and making plans, but what do you do when time’s up and the goal wasn’t reached and the plan was changed?

I believe this is where contentment and grace is crucial. We should never SETTLE for something inferior and we should seek to improve and be our best. That is why we make New Years Resolutions (maybe setting the bar too high), why we try to lose weight and eat healthier, why we invest in a new relationship. We want to grow.  But part of growth is being content with where you are. If I defined myself only by what I was hoping to do or be, I would always be disappointed because I might go my whole life never reaching that goal. As I try to lose weight through Weight Watchers, I must not become discouraged and bitter about my body and weight. I must persevere, but I also need to love myself now. I must be content with what I have and who I am now, even when things don’t go as I expected them to go.

Because expectations can be hinder beauty. If EvanBot (my Facebook App’s moniker) had expectations he had to meet in terms of logic and comprehension, he would never make something like this:

If Mica’s expectations for her sketches prevented Myla from adding her own beauty, we never would have seen this:

By Mica and Myla Hendricks

And if my hopes and expectations for myself were met…

– Moving back to Norway in middle school

– Published author by end of high school

– Marrying my camp crush in college

– Having thousands of readers at my website

… there might have been some sort of beauty, for God of course would have been present. But that beauty will forever be unknown. All I know is this present beauty. If any number of things had been different in my life, I wouldn’t be here now, enjoying the fellowship of Wheaton Graduate students, serving at Poplar Creek church, writing to my faithful few. I still hope to grow and go wherever God leads me.

But for now, I am content in this present beauty.

What say you, EvanBot?

Um… what he said.

Posted under: Creation, Writing

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