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am I a та?

"All grown ups are pirates." -Hook

Each afternoon into the evening, I hear children playing in the courtyard of our apartment complex. There is even a nice hopscotch game set up right beneath my window. At nearly every hour of the day you can hear a basketball being bounced on the finally unfrozen half-court.

Those kids stay out there for hours on end. Skipping their normal meals of meat, potatoes and carrots for their third or fourth popsicle of the day.

I've found here that spring really just means ice cream. Those words are basically synonymous. When it started being above 0 outside, kids started eating ice cream like it was going out of style.

Everyone opens their windows as if to air out their hibernation quarters. Now that it has gotten closer to what I call warm, I've even gotten into the popsicles and open windows.

Since the winter solstice we've been gaining 3-5 minutes of sunshine everyday. I've heard it said that in the height of the summer the sun will rise around 3 and set around 10. We're getting pretty close to that. I woke up to light around 4 this morning and it was still pretty light out last night until about 9:30. With all the sunshine, the grass and leaves have been growing. The mountains are now a nice shade of green.

As I sit here, I can hear the children outside playing. They play before school, after school and I'm convinced sometimes during school. I think they could live outside. Ever since the ground started unfreezing, they've been outside non-stop.

Right now, it is still a little chilly at night, especially with the wind. I think about the children outside for hours and hours not caring at all that it is still relatively chilly. They don't care. They have been inside way too long. I remember when I was a child, staying outside for long periods of time, too. I remember feeling cold but it didn't matter. I remember the feeling your arms and legs have when you come inside, it's tingly-almost like when your feet go to sleep. You have to unthaw but there are no regrets. You didn't even want to come inside, you would sleep outside if you could, or not even sleep at all.

Something changes, though. As you get older your brain tells you more and more that being cold isn't acceptable. Not only do we get cold and care but we forget how to play. I remember in 12th grade, my English Lit teacher harped, and harped would be a generous term, on the "loss of innocence." I understood what it meant, generally. I understood that it was expected and natural to lose your innocence.

It's natural to grow up and feel cold.

Although it's natural, I still feel a resistance to growing up. Sometimes here, cold is really just cold--no matter how you slice it.

In Mongolian culture you use two different words for "you." One is more formal and the other is less formal. Essentially, that translates to one you say to your friends and people younger than you and the other you say to your elders, people you respect. We have similar things like this in English. Some are less subtle and less used, though.

As my one year mark for graduating from Auburn has crept up and passed me by, I've started thinking about where I fall on the та/чи scale. Nothing inside of me feels like a та. Aside from not feeling like a та I am resisting it like crazy. I'm pretty scared of a lot of what that means and I don't even know what all that means. After all, Hook says, "All grown ups are pirates," so it doesn't seem that enticing.

An adult student of mine and I were talking a few weeks ago about this subject. She was talking about when she was turning 25 and feeling the same way. She said I started asking myself the question, "Am I a та?" She said it wasn't until she was 30 that she actually felt like an adult and she too, resisted it for as long as possible. Thankfully, I'm not 30 yet--or even 25, so I can rest easy for a little while longer.

Through all my thinking I've come up with an overarching statement about how I feel: growing up is weird.

I think the process is going to be accelerated when I get back to America [which I am also terrified of doing]. So, for now, I'll wait here in the land of чи. I'll return in 8 months and hopefully will be asking myself the question am I a та? for a long while.

Until then, I'll keep going outside and enjoying it. And I'll do my best to make eating popsicles for dinner, a lasting memory.

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The Prayer of the Empty Water Jar

Jesus, I come into the warmth of your presence
knowing that you are
the very emptiness of God.

I come before you
holding the water jar of my life.

Your eyes meet mine
and I know what I'd rather not know.

I came to be filled
but I am already full.

I am too full
This is my sickness

I am full of things
that crowd out
your healing presence.

A holy knowing steals inside my heart
and I see a painful truth.

I don't need more
I need less
I am too full.

I am full of things that block out
your golden grace.

I am smothered by gods of my own creation
I am lost in the forest of my false self
I am full of my own opinions and narrow attitudes
full of fear, resentments, control
full of self-pity, and arrogance.

Slowly this terrible truth
pierces my heart
I am so full there is no room for you.

Contemplatively, and with compassion
you ask me to reach into my water jar.

One by one, Jesus, you enable me
to lift out the things
that are a hindrance to my wholeness.

I take each one to my heart and