It was life changing.

First of all, thank you to the people who read my posts even when I’ve not written any new ones, I appreciate your loyalty.

Second, obviously, I’m back from my mission’s trip.

I know some of you will want to hear how it went and some probably don’t care, and here’s the thing, it’s as interesting as the person makes it.

I found after my mission trip last year that what was most important to me about it was not what everyone asked me about. They wanted to know what I did, I wanted to talk about the people and place itself.

This time around, I am more interested in what I did. Because I did it to get out of my comfort zone.

And I certainly succeeded there because I was uncomfortable about half of the time. I did not feel like God was just keeping me cloaked in grace this time around. Which means that it was not so easy and smooth as it was before. Part of the reason for that was I went with people I knew slightly instead of total strangers, and a lot more personal issues were involved because of that, nothing like a trip to another place to bring out everyone’s insecurities and quirks. I ended the trip by getting yelled at over something stupid and unfair. Lovely right?

And so I’m debunking the myth here that all mission’s trips are supernatural and life changing experiences, at least on the surface. They aren’t. I won’t say that this trip did not change my life, I believe it did, but not in the easily recognizable way we expect when we use that phrase.

If this trip showed me a little more about myself and the people around me; gave me a little more knowledge of how to do certain things; helped me overcome a few more of my fears; and gave me the chance to change lives even in a small way; it was life changing (duh on the last part right?)

If nothing else, I got a lot of cool souvenirs.

That was a joke, of course, though seriously, they have nice stuff at Swap Meets.

If you asked me what I learned through the experience, I’d have to say I learned that everyone is human. That is, I saw both the good and bad sides of my team mates, more than the team I went with last year, and these were not worse people, I dare say, they were just more able to lose their cool around each other. I realized that people have expectations of each other that are often not met, or not met in ways we think they will be.

But I also saw that the flaws that normally make me disinterested in being friends with someone can be compensated for. My team mates have plenty of annoying quirks (as I do myself) but they have a lot of good qualities that make up for them. The ones that don’t, well, they don’t.

And I saw myself in a lot of the annoying things they did; scary, right?

So, all in all, I can’t judge. The things that were seriously wrong I do have a hard time with. Maybe you’ve been there, you see sides to people that you just can’t excuse because it goes against your principles, not just your taste. When that happens, all I can do is back away.

That does not mean I will not care about those people, of course I will, but it is unwise to be intimate friends with someone who has a serious difference of principle from yourself, because when you need a good kick in the pants, how can you count on them to give it to you? The best friends remind us who we are, they don’t excuse us when we act out of character.

I have tried to be this kind of friend, with very little success, I suppose because I never actually know people as well as I think I do. Or else, they don’t know I know them that well.

I have waited a long time to find friends who will encourage me in my principles, and it can be a long and lonely search, but how can I be satisfied with less? Who is to say that it is impossible? It’s only impossible if you give up looking.

And on that note, I got to know some people better who did bring out the best in me. I hope to continue to know them more.

At the end of the day, I need to trust my instincts. My first impression of people is often mostly accurate, it just needs expanding.

So, that was this trip. And on the less emotional side, I did cross another thing off my bucket list: Rock Climbing. (I so recommend trying this if you can tolerate heights at all. It’s a real rush to conquer a climb.)

I hope everyone found something of interest in this post, and until next time–Natasha.

 

A quick announcement, I am going on another trip next week and won’t be able to post for eight or nine days, so hang in there with me people, I shall return.

While I was gone…

I really couldn’t help not posting for several days, I was out of state and away from my computer.

That’s all my explanation and apology. It was a family tragedy.

It happens to everyone, but as the cliché goes, you never think it’ll happen to you.

I think though that I knew it would happen eventually, I just didn’t know when and I didn’t see it coming. I almost don’t believe it still.

What a crazy week, between visiting the bereaved my family tried to snatch a little bit of the vacation we were planning to have this year because now we can’t do it, and then there was a hasty funeral and long trip home.

Bringing me up to today, when I’m recovering and still trying to process these events.

There’s a few things I think everyone experiences when one of their family members dies. There’s a realization that death really happens, and could happen to you. The immediate response is fear.

There’s usually anger. In this case the cause of death was not wearing a seatbelt and driving too fast. Why was the person so stupid?

There’s shock of course. And most of all there’s regret that you spent less time than you wished with them.

If I’m totally honest,  I admit that people probably spend about as much time with each other as they really want to. The problem isn’t that death cuts it short but that we prioritize the wrong things or just neglect the ones that are more difficult. And the truth is, if it were me who died, other people would feel like they should have spent more time with me.

And maybe they should have, or should really. But I wouldn’t blame them all that much that they didn’t because that’s the way life is. We don’t always get the chance to do all that we think we should. We’re human and we miss what’s right in front of us, or what’s far away from us and yet very real.

This may sound like I’m taking a cynical view of this, but I’m not, I’m trying to avoid the common mistake of thinking that knowing this was coming would have made anyone different. It should make us different anyway, but I’ve never liked the idea of being nice to people because you fear death.

The fact is, death may be a wake up call for some, but for many it’s a shadow. One that will go away in time if we heal in the right way, but one people often cling to as their new normal.

The important thing is not to focus on death and how it’s a possibility, because it always was, and it’ll ruin your life to be always thinking of it.

The thing to think of is how everyone’s life is so short, but no one’s is meaningless.

I didn’t know this person who died all that well, I wish I had, but at least some people did. It is better to find out that someone was an amazing person than to find out that they did no one any good.

What I have learned is that there is more to people than you can know based on a slim acquaintance. Even if you are able to judge one part of their character, there may be another part you knew nothing about. If that makes me a little less quick to assume in the future then that’s a good thing.

But I don’t expect it to completely change my own character, and I’m not foolish enough to try that, only One person’s death can change someone’s character in that radical way.

Maybe you were expecting a different post, and for all I know, this just sounds like the typical way people try to comfort themselves after a tragedy, and perhaps that’s what it is.

Perhaps, also, that’s fine because grief is typical in life.

I am not afraid to die myself, I am only afraid to die before I’ve really helped anyone or changed anything, or done something that was important and unselfish and brought God the glory.

I know what kind of person I want to be before I die, but I don’t feel like I’m anywhere near close enough to being her.

And I don’t know how well my family member was satisfied with his life, not too well from what I’ve heard, but he couldn’t see the incredible person he was destined to be.

I guess it’s not where you are now so much as where you’re going to be, sooner or later, and with many bumps along the way.

As many times as I have heard the above said, it’s so easy to forget and think the present is our permanent state of being. It’s not. Things will get worse or better, they will never stay just the same.

Worse or better will alternate, but the overall effect is up to you and what you want to believe in.

And those are my thoughts on this for now. Until next time–Natasha.

Avatar

I’m breaking from my new series to catch up on my film reviews.

Also, I realized today that it is nearly the two-year anniversary of this blog. I’ve grown from two followers to forty one. This is pretty cool.

Anyway, to the review:

I am not talking about the show Avatar, I’ve never seen it. I’m talking about the movie that kind of went under the radar.  I remember first seeing commercials for it and thinking it looked cool. Blue aliens, they aren’t usually my thing, but it was an interesting concept.

And I finally got a chance to watch it.

The story is about a man named Jake Sully, who is an ex-marine, and has lost the use of his legs, but thanks to being a twin and having the same DNA of his dead brother, he is able to replace him in an experimental program that will use his soul and mind into the body of a human/alien being, and allow him to infiltrate their culture and find out how to get the valuable metal they have in their forest. Unobtainium. (That name was said with a straight face throughout the entire movie.)

Creepy sounding right? But once you get over the initial weirdness and your mind adjusts to the idea of a man being inside a large blue thing with a tail, it’s not so bad.

The character I found most intriguing, next to Jake, was Grace. A scientist on the project, who at first didn’t like him being there because she thought he was dumb. (Incidentally, Chris Pratt auditioned for Jake’s role, and Jake Sully is a lot like Peter Quill from Guardians of the Galaxy. Apparently Pratt gets type cast.)

After a lot of in between events that fill us in more on these blues aliens (I can neither remember nor spell their actual name) Jake and his new body end up on their planet, Pandora, with a handful of other humans in avatar form. Jake has some run ins with the flora and fauna of this world, and one of the natives is going to shoot an arrow through him, but the seeds of their ancient tree stop her. It’s not quite as crazy as it sounds. This tree is like the Home Tree from Pixie Hollow, a source of power.

The native spares him, and then saves his life, making it plain that she thinks he’s an idiot, but he has s trog heart, and she’s not going to kill anyone the tree says to spare. Later she takes him to her people and he is trained by her to be one of them.

There’s a lot more to it than that, but this movie is really long, so I’ll go to the important part. After months of this, Jake begins to feel more conflicted about destroying these people. And Grace, who was in charge of a school for their children and ahs been allowed around them again, is also not for the idea of destroying their home and them. But their protests get them locked up. And after a lot of cat and mouse with them escaping and being caught again, Jake rallies all the tribes of the aliens against the humans. I’ll admit this was the most intense action I’ve seen in awhile.

Of course there is the obligatory scene where the blue people find out Jake was playing them and the girl he’s fallen in love with (and mated with…skip that scene) is furious with him and sends him packing. But as cliché as it is, the actors sold it really well, and made it more unique. Plus we never get that annoying scene where the hero is bellyaching about how they ruined everything and lost the girl, blah, blah, blah. Jake never wastes time.

In the end, the blue people win over the Earthlings, with the help of they’re planet’s god, Awah (Phonetic spelling,) who causes all the animals of the forest to help them, even the ones that would normally eat them. Jake gets to stay there, along with a few other people, and they use they’re mystical tree to make him permanently one of their kind.

The verdict:

I really recommend checking this movie out for yourself. It’s a lot like Atlantis, only with Milo Thatch replaced with an ex-marine. It’s also like Epic and Fern Gully. But the themes are more adult, and a lot more interesting and complex.

I knew Grace would change her mind about the people from the beginning, because she was learning about them the most and spending time with them, she had a more open mind, and more respect for their culture. Jake closed off to begin with, but you knew he’d change his mind too.

The bigger surprise was that a handful of the other humans also changed their minds, and sacrificed even their lives to help the people.

One of the most gripping lines is at the end, when Jake, in making his video log, reverses the terms, saying “The aliens went back to their planet, a few were selected to remain.” The aliens now being his own people.

The is movie is somewhat like Ender’s Game in plot device, but not in tone. I hated Ender’s Game and I didn’t like Ender. Jake on the other hand, I could at least root for. I felt sad for him, and his friends, and I could see clearly why the natives did not deserve what they got and how the whole project was bad to begin with and got worse as it went. You also see that the other humans had almost no respect for the natives, they thought of them as primitives, little better than animals, and that destroying them had no moral implications. The familiarity of such thinking was scary.

I don’t like movies that paint humans as the most evil, despicable race that there is. But I don’t think this movie would do that unless you chose to see it that way. Some of the humans are noble. It is more about how one race cannot dominate another in that way, and that it is not treason to join the opposite side if they are in the right. (Just like in the Hawk Girl post I just did.) It’s also about respecting life.

Even though the religion of the movie seems very Eastern, I found none of it to directly contradict my own faith. I actually thought Awah was a good representation of God in some ways. The rituals were weird, and I did skip some, but mostly it was fine.

Also, instead of the head of the tribe taking an instant disliking to Jake, the mother of it is the most just to him, and she is the one who frees him and Grace at the end, instead of the love interest. I thought that was cool.

This has been a very long review of a very long movie, so I’m signing off now.

Until next time–Natasha.100_2868