Cover to Cover of You

*This was originally a little paper I wrote for class, but I put a little twist on it. Hope you enjoy!

After hearing Sandra Kroupa’s talk with my class, where she said she “never defines the word ‘book,’ I am beginning to rethink how I myself define a book. Kroupa further opened the possibilities by introducing artist books, which completely reshaped the way a “book” is thought of and used. Artist books go beyond the paper and ink of our standard books and re-purpose them to be just as much a part of the story as the text itself. The physical object, then, has just as much to say in the story and actually adds to it. Artist books incorporate the reader, involving them in the unfolding and telling of the tale. I wanted to take this idea even further and create my own definition of what a book is: A book is a vessel for a story.

A book is something that carries the story. Most of us would think of bound paper as the vessel and a collection of words, usually unified and ordered somehow, as the story. But to think this way is very limiting. Vessels are all around us and can be anything. In the same way, stories make up everything and have many forms beyond just writing. Spoken stories flutter from the mouth of someone, unbound, and if impactful enough will make their home in the hearts of whoever listened; a story without a vessel. This approach to defining a book asks you to open your mind to finding tales in odd places, to creatively thinking about the world, and experiencing the power and beauty of stories in a new light. Once you embrace this you will begin to see “books” and “stories” all around you. 

Furthermore, this drastically broadens what can be considered a book. The artist books make things like a pack of cigarettes, a blouse, a board game and so on, all vessels that add to, and play a role in sharing the story. It is imperative that whatever the vessel is, it accepts that it contains a story and becomes part of it or else it does not work as a book. Even the books made of paper and ink do this. The cover usually has a picture, a title, excerpts, and quotes all of which point to the book embracing that it contains a story. 

You might be saying well then, by your definition everything is a book. In some ways I am. However, I am not saying that all these things that can be defined as a book, a vessel for a story, should be read as a book. My definition defines it as a vessel for a story, not a vessel with a story. You see, there needs to be some intentionality behind the vessel, a main purpose to serve the story. I believe that every vessel can have a story, for example a coffee mug with some writing on the front and a chip out of the top lip… is it a book? Well if the definition was a vessel with a story then yes. That chip, the writing across the front, the coloring and stains all point towards a story if you’re willing to let yourself be creative. However, is it a vessel for a story? Well, no. The primary purpose of a coffee mug is for drinking coffee and not telling stories. 

This definition of a book is quite radical. It is asking a lot of a person to think of books in this way. But I truly believe that wrestling with this idea will be interesting and expose you to a much more vivid and interesting world. Stories make up so much of what it means to be human. That’s why my favorite books are people, and the stories of their lives. We are all, as human beings, a vessel with a story. Things like fear and control keep us stuck trying to cross out old parts of our story, or trying to write ahead, go our own way and deny who we’re meant to be. Deep in our souls we feel our identity that has been divinely placed there, giving us purpose. We feel the burning of our story etched in our heart giving us passion for what we were created to do. The people who choose to serve their story, to embrace it, and be a vessel for their story begin to relinquish control of the pen and live in the current unfolding of their beautiful and intriguing life. Truly leaning into our stories has the power to inspire, connecting us to others while highlighting how unique we are. The true gift of embracing our story, however, is the freedom that comes from giving up the burden of control, and the love that is revealed for us in each and every moment from the Writer who is so, so good.

Thoughts on the Heart 3

My heart is a gift to God.

With Corona Virus running rampant throughout the world, people are scared. Covid 19 is devastating families and placing fear in people’s hearts, and a lot of us are asking what we can do. 

Man, everyday God is doing things in my heart. It is amazing following him. Every day he breaks my heart for others which leads to humility and makes me more humble. BUT HE DOESN’T LEAVE ME THERE. He fills it back up with passion and compassion which inspires me to help and care for others, and to savor every moment I have here on earth and the people I get to share those moments with. He fills my heart so full with identity in Him that I can’t help but overflow with joy and peace and be reminded of how blessed I am.

With everything going on, I pray that we can give our hearts to our creator because I promise you He will treat it for what it is, a gift. I pray that if you don’t believe in God that you give him a chance now. God is so present in the midst of suffering and chaos. His arms are open for you, always. I pray that we take our hurting hearts during this time and give them to God. I pray that we take our full hearts and use them to help our families, communities, and the world during this time. Don’t let your hearts be filled with fear but with peace that God’s got us and is using what the enemy intended for evil to bring people into His love, which is bigger than any fear or obstacle we will ever face, Covid 19 included. 

Gosh man, my heart. It aches for those hurting, yet is full from God’s gracious love. I am open to God using me to help however He wants during this time. Maybe He will use these words to bring peace into some people’s hearts. I am praying for you all. I pray that you don’t think your role is unimportant in stopping Covid 19. Distancing yourself may seem like a small act, but it’s a huge act of love to your neighbors right now. 

Events like this sometimes help us to see the important things in life; family, love, identity. God can be all those things and more for you if you let Him. Spend this time with family, helping how you can, and consider gifting your heart to God. You don’t need to wrap it and place a bow on it or wait for it to be in better shape or until it’s in worse shape, hand it over to Him now and see what He does with it. 

I give my heart as a gift to God and He returns it to me more full than when I sent it.

God is a gift to my heart. 

Re-imagining Creativity

We need more creativity in the world. I believe that creativity is dying in a lot of ways. More and more often people are extinguishing the fires in their heart, the burning ideas and passions for life that they have, because society, religion, and family all tell them that it isn’t sustainable. They tell them that they need to make money, they need to be safe, they need to be wise, they need to be educated, they need success and I will admit that sometimes the motives behind these claims are armed with the best intentions for the individual. However, I think that pursing the creative passion that is in everyone is so valuable not only to one’s own self, but to the world. The actual definition of creativity is “the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.” I think this is great, but the way I see creativity is as an outlet, a mode, to put forth your passions. It is a way to express your passions, who you are, for the world.

Creative works take on many forms, and I have often asked myself what the best way to express an idea is. For me, I have considered video games, drawings, paintings, pictures, film, animations, poetry, prose, and short stories among the many options. What I have found is that through each form I have learned more about this idea in my heart, and through creative experimentation I have found out more about myself and others. I have seen people express this same idea in a different form and felt the powerful connection of two people with the same burnings to understand something in their heart. It is through pursuing creativity of your passions that you begin to see the connection you have with so many others. When people find the perfect creative template to a raging passion it provides a universal message to people. It is real, personal, and vulnerable. We need more of this in the world. It helps us to remember we aren’t alone, but on the same token we are our own unique self.

I know what some of you might be saying, I don’t really have a creative side or art isn’t really my thing. I would beg to differ though. Everyone has creativity in them, and they express it differently. Creativity can be a mindset. Creativity looks like being a problem solver, taking risks and looking at things differently, and being okay with being different. There are limitless forms to creativity and you can implement that mindset right now, where you are. In work, with your family and friends, and in your personal life. However, I would urge you to really listen to your heart for the embers you still have flickering in there that are waiting to be kindled. I urge you to listen, and then act, all while applying a creative mindset to that passion that, with some nurturing and attention, will be erupting into powerful and life changing differences in your life. I believe that you can be very successful and happy in life when you fuel your passion with creative power. We need to continue to invest in creativity, to spend time pursing it in our own hearts, and help to encourage and facilitate it in others.

The Unbound Journal 5: The Finishing Touch

Welcome to the final post in The Unbound Journal. I appreciate you going through this series with me while I experimented with writing about something a little different than usual. Hopefully you have started to think differently about what your journal can be and ways in which to make your journal something valuable that you can cherish for years to come. In this final post I want to go back to basics of journaling and the core foundation behind it. You should write things you want to remember, real things, or write down everything, and keep it simple, or make it elaborate, do lists or write paragraphs, the point is your journal is yours and everything I have said are just ideas. What you write, how you write, that is you and your voice, and I encourage you to continue to listen for it as you journal. Don’t be afraid to be creative, messy, and fun. Some small additions that I like to add are dates, which are nice to look back at later, color schemes with colors representing certain things (I have also used charcoal, highlighter and sharpies aside from the normal pencil or pens), or even drawing a picture to represent an idea rather than words. A journal is a canvas for creativity and remembrance that represents you, your life, and your voice. You should already enjoy the process of journaling, but if you follow all the advice I have given you, you should have a journal that you will enjoy for a long time. Thanks again for reading and being a part of this community. As always, much love!

One Awfully Good Day

So, today was one of the more stressful days in my life. Today challenged me in new ways. It was one awfully good day in fact.  A cold that I thought I had finished fighting off the last 3 weeks decided it wanted to go into the 12th round with me AND has come back with a second wind and vengeance. But I’ve beaten it once before! Partly because I’m trying to cough up my insides, and partly because I am lacking on sleep, I obviously didn’t want to leave my bed, and I definitely didn’t want to see people. However, can’t do that because I had a project in school that I had to be there for. Despite feeling tired and sick, I still found a way to get up. It took everything for me to roll out of bed, leaving me with no time for breakfast and an uncomfortably quick walk to the tube. I started my day with some exercise. For those of you who don’t know, the tube is an underground railway system in London, which is exactly what it sounds like; a tube crammed full of sweaty people all trying to get somewhere. Now, early in the mornings the tube can be crowded. I knew that, BUT I did not expect it to be this crowded. People were so smushed together that we practically all became family or looked like we were trying to start one. I met a lot of new people in one day and we all got to know each other pretty well. At one point I was in the middle of a crowd with no rail to hold on to and I was just bouncing along with everyone like I was in a mosh pit at a concert. Multiple bags, briefcases and purses slapped against my butt from unknown sources and when I finally bobbed my way out of the middle, I found myself in a worse position; my face pressed against the glass window looking like a fool. It was an interesting ride full of lots of experiences that I’ll remember for a while. This was just one tube of 6 that I would ride on this awfully good day. All day it felt like I never left the tube; crammed next to people in a huge city with no space to think or breathe. Even though it felt a little crowded at times, I got to meet a lot of different people exploring London as well. I felt hot and irritable all day. I still wasn’t feeling the best but that wasn’t stopping me. The project that I had to be there for went terribly well, and for my other class we were in a museum, which was essentially just a stationary tube with prettier sights. However, that’s when things peaked for my day as in the middle of class I felt my gut turn over inside me, as if kindly letting me know that it was giving me about 5 minutes before it ejected everything from my stomach. Sticky heat was clung to me. I felt pasty and desperate and knew I had to get out of there. I tried my best to play it cool and let a classmate know I wasn’t feeling well, and as soon as I did, I took off. Sprinting passed confused museum-goers and horrified faces as I held my hand over my mouth forcing myself to keep everything inside. I burst into the bathroom and practically dove into a stall and let it rip. There I sat for a moment, listening to my stomach to see if there was more, and reflecting on my life and how I got there. In my rush I left the stall door open so that other men could see me clung to the toilet looking exasperated and defeated. I got sick and threw up, but the good news is I made it to a toilet and felt a little better afterwards. It could have been a lot worse! Finally, I left there, and the day ended slightly better and how most nights end; with my favorite house guest, Procrastination, leaving and Reality coming back to remind that despite how tired and sick I am, and how awfully good of a day I had, there’s a lot to do. Today was assurance that perspective matters.

Different Perspectives on Consuming London

1

When in London, I can’t help but overindulge, especially in Covent Garden. Before my eyes is a feast of colors, culture, and people. Yes, the people! I love the them the most. I’m fully entranced by the street performers putting on magic shows, executing magnificent acrobatic feats, or making music. I am absorbed by the swelling crowds of tourists who swarm around these performers with their camera phones pointed at the action. An ocean of swirling dialects and diverse colors crash around me like waves. Swimming through them, I am eventually channeled out into open space spotted with the more local folks who are on a mission in the city. They walk with purpose, with determination, with confidence. Lining benches and any free steps are groups of visitors from where I can only imagine to be every corner and crevice of the world. Some groups are shaking in the brisk air, unprepared for the chilly weather, while others gather at coffee shops for some liquid gold to warm them. The people provide the tone and their culture, the flavor, against the grey backdrop of London architecture. Brick roads meet stone buildings and blend effortlessly into a matching sky. There is the occasional splotch of color on a building, usually clay reds but sometimes vibrant blues or pinks. Crisp corners and defined outlines shape the structures, breaking form only by the supporting round pillars that reach up into arches. Flowers in crates like garnishes dot the paths and nature can be seen on doors framed with foliage. But another treasure lies in the heart of the square. It is in the apple market where past and present combine. The market seems to beat with intensity and throb with opportunity. The old style of the outdoor market has found its way inside in a space that produces a feeling of openness as well as crowdedness. It is here where all the smells and sounds seem to gather and present themselves like a main course to me. It is here that I smell fresh cookies mixed with Chanel perfumes and the odor of sleep deprived travelers. It is here where the calls of children and hollers of street performers blend over the low rumble of conversation. Every sound takes on vibrant colors that swirl around me, and every sight I can feel move through me. Each sense tingles inside, overwhelmed after being starved for so long. It is here, among these senses and the people that I feel at the heart of London and finally satisfy my cravings.

2

He often wonders, if it’s obvious that he is not from here. His look, his walk, what will give it away today? Hopefully, he believes, that one day the only foreign sign will be the reflected wonder that flickers in his eyes as he looks in awe at the city of London, trying to comprehend its novelty. The same glinted gaze that only he knows about when reading a book on a park bench in Brenton Cross. When quiet hangs in the open like fog, trapped between emerald green grass and the smoggy ash sky. Or the same senses that tingle through him when he finds himself just enjoying his walk down Oxford street. With no destination, no concerns, absorbing every detail, and feasting on everything the city has to offer. Walking through puffs of cigarette smoke, past pubs bursting with the clamor of conversation and clanks of business, and by the brightly lit signs of theaters, he begins to fade into the people. He acknowledges the beauty and bliss in all these moments. As time goes on the mundane actions of his old life like transportation, shopping, studying, working, all become lively and exciting adventures in his new environment. He begins to wander less. He starts to know his way and walk with a more determined step and confident gait past confused tourists and stride for stride with the locals. Finding his way to his usual coffee shop for a steaming cup of tea or his favorite pub for a cold beer and chips becomes routine. He keeps beat with the city. However, it is not above him to occasionally ride the tube to an uncharted destination and get off. Here, he explores with a naïve composition. He gets lost, resorting back to unsure movements, but along the way passes the fresh smells of restaurants undiscovered by him, extraordinary and breath-taking architecture, and he begins to become over-taken by the feeling, the spark and tingling of his senses, as if he is uncovering the city for the first time.

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

 

This is an essay I wrote this year that really gets to the core of what I want to do with my life. In simple terms, I want to be a storyteller. There are so many avenues that can be followed when pursuing storytelling, and I don’t necessarily mind how I end up working as a one. What I really care about is what makes a storyteller. The motives of great storytellers and the characteristics and values they have are amazing, genuine and rooted in what I believe to be some of the most important things in life. Being a storyteller means so much more than people know, and in this essay, I want to explain to you what it means to me.

~

Hi, my name is Chad Campbell-Gonzalez and I would like to share with you how I figured out I want to be a storyteller. Growing up, I loved writing. In elementary school when I was asked what I want to do I said become a writer. There was something about writing that drew me in. I think at the time it was the limitless expression that writing offered. Blank pages were like blank stories, empty worlds, and untraversed universes, waiting to be explored by my imagination and my pen. Each word I wrote added to this thing I was creating that came from inside me. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was falling in love with creativity.

Creativity is a critical aspect of storytelling, and it is so fascinating and unique. Getting to express myself through words and imagery is powerful. It’s personal. Creativity is like the key to a door that opens up a world of adventures in self-exploration and understanding. Through it, we try and better grasp who we think we are and, in the process, gain a greater appreciation for those around us. That’s why, although unique and definitely a self-journey, creativity is also a voyage of all people and an adventure that leads to building community.

As I grew older, middle school and high school weren’t environments where creative writing was prioritized. It was still there but you really had to search to find it. All that given, I drifted away from writing and pursued what I thought would make my family and those around me proud. I wanted to be someone important and powerful. I wanted a job that was hard to achieve and when I accomplished it, people would be impressed. I wanted to be everything except what my heart wanted me to be. And so I pursued those things. All through high school and through the beginning part of my college career I had myself convinced that was what I wanted. Over that span a few things happened that, at the time I didn’t know, but were slowly turning me back towards my passion for storytelling.

I found Jesus on May 30, 2015, my sophomore year of high school. My experience with Him has shown me how important people are, and most importantly how important love is. Love is one of the most powerful things on the planet, and it wasn’t until I started following Jesus that I really took a look at my heart and the love that was in my life. I was going through some family issues, as we all are, but I starting to really think about what it means to love and how to do it and I was able to start working through some of those things. Then my journey with understanding love grew even more in my senior year of high school when I read the book “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” by Raymond Carver. I could see him exploring ideas on love and trying to understand what it meant to him and I thought to myself, I want to do that! Carver helped me see how writing helps a writer work through and wrestle with confusing things in their life, and lets others see what they take away from it.

So, with these things in mind and my passion for writing starting to spark back up I decided to take a writing class at the University of Washington. It was amazing. Writing again I could feel the creative cogs in my head creak back into life. I felt like a kid again. I felt like me. I was able to start unpacking and working on things in my life that hurt me, confused me and I was able to express and share all the things that healed me and uplifted me. It was like all of these huge realizations flooded me and I was able to hear my heart again. I came to realize that being a storyteller means wanting to understand and love yourself, and more importantly, sharing what you discover with others so that they can learn, grow and be reminded that they aren’t alone in their struggles. I began to really appreciate the personal therapy session I received every time I put the ink on the page or my fingers on the keys. Being a storyteller means creating and it means listening. It involves getting out in your communities and sharing experiences. It means helping each other see their best self and get the most out of life. Being a storyteller means loving people, and that’s what I want to do with my life.