Live Your Life By The Code Of Elves

Live Your Life By The Code Of Elves

Let's treat every day like Christmas.
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I love Christmas. Love it. The music, the movies, the joy of gift giving, the reminder of hope. My roommates and I leave our Christmas trees (all six of them) up year-round. We are the real deal.

One of my favorite Christmas movies is the Will Ferrell classic, "Elf." I think it is the perfect mix of comedy, Santa and the meaning of Christmas. Buddy the Elf is one of my favorite characters of all time. The way he lives his life completely uninhibited, with such joy and love, is something I strive for. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from the movie, including to never try to hug a raccoon, but one of the best is something I try to apply to my everyday life: The Code of Elves.

1. Treat every day like Christmas.

This is so important. No, we don't need to give gifts wrapped in reindeer-print paper to each other every single day or have family dinner with 15 desserts every weekend. What we do need is to keep the spirit of Christmas with us every day. I can keep it in the small things like holding the door open for the people walking behind me and making sure to hug my friends every time I see them. The Christmas spirit is in me when I hold on to hope. It is in me when I find joy in the mundane parts of life. Encouraging others, acting with love, holding onto hope. That is how we treat every day like Christmas. And maybe eating a cookie or two.

2. There's room for everyone on the Nice List.

Seeing the best in people can be hard. I try to live by the idea that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. And then sometimes I still assume they are innocent. I think that the more we assume people to be kind and caring, the more we will find that people are kind and caring. If someone can sense that I don't like them from the start, he or she probably won't like me either. We as humans tend to take on the role that others give us. If people continually tell me that I am dumb, I will start to believe that I am dumb. Remembering this philosophy is essential to living a life of joy. If I am constantly assuming the worst in people, it becomes hard to love them. I think that Jesus always sees the best in us, and does what He can to draw that out of us. I want to do the same for those around me. I think that that is love.

3. The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.

Clearly, this is my favorite one. We all have that one song that we can't help but turn up and yell-sing at the top of our lungs with a huge smile on our faces. For me, it's more than one song, but I don't know a single person that doesn't have at least one. Singing is therapeutic. Music can make the world melt away in a way that nothing else can. My favorite part of this movie is at the end when Emily (Michael's mom) starts to sing along, and she is completely tone deaf. To me, that is beautiful. Yes, individually, her voice is not pleasing, but when she is singing among all of the people standing outside of Central Park, the sound is beautiful and joyful. What can speak more to the meaning of Christmas than that?



So, my friends, I hope you will join me in living by the Code of Elves. I'm not saying you need to go dig around in your attic and stick up your Christmas tree today. Not that I would be opposed to you doing that. I do hope, though, that we can start a tradition of holding onto hope in the midst of chaos and love in the midst of war. Together we are stronger. Warm up those vocal chords, grab a cup of hot cocoa and come with me as we live our lives like Buddy the Elf.

Cover Image Credit: bustle.com

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A Playlist From The iPod Of A Middle Schooler In 2007

I will always love you, Akon.
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Something happened today that I never thought in a million years would happen. I opened up a drawer at my parents' house and I found my pink, 4th generation iPod Nano. I had not seen this thing since I graduated from the 8th grade, and the headphones have not left my ears since I pulled it out of that drawer. It's funny to me how music can take you back. You listen to a song and suddenly you're wearing a pair of gauchos, sitting on the bleachers in a gym somewhere, avoiding boys at all cost at your seventh grade dance. So if you were around in 2007 and feel like reminiscing, here is a playlist straight from the iPod of a middle schooler in 2007.

1. "Bad Day" — Daniel Powter

2. "Hips Don't Lie" — Shakira ft. Wyclef Jean

SEE ALSO: 23 Iconic Disney Channel Moments We Will Never Forget

3. "Unwritten" — Natasha Bedingfield

4. "Run It!" — Chris Brown

5. "Girlfriend" — Avril Lavigne

6. "Move Along" — All-American Rejects

7. "Fergalicious" — Fergie

8. "Every Time We Touch" — Cascada

9. "Ms. New Booty" — Bubba Sparxxx

10. "Chain Hang Low" — Jibbs

11. "Smack That" — Akon ft. Eminem

12. "Waiting on the World to Change" — John Mayer

13. "Stupid Girls" — Pink

14. "Irreplaceable" — Beyonce

15. "Umbrella" — Rihanna ft. Jay-Z

16. "Don't Matter" — Akon

17. "Party Like A Rockstar" — Shop Boyz

18. "This Is Why I'm Hot" — Mims

19. "Beautiful Girls" — Sean Kingston

20. "Bartender" — T-Pain

21. "Pop, Lock and Drop It" — Huey

22. "Wait For You" — Elliot Yamin

23. "Lips Of An Angel" — Hinder

24. "Face Down" — Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

25. "Chasing Cars" — Snow Patrol

26. "No One" — Alicia Keys

27. "Cyclone" — Baby Bash ft. T-Pain

28. "Crank That" — Soulja Boy

29. "Kiss Kiss" — Chris Brown

SEE ALSO: 20 Of The Best 2000's Tunes We Still Know Every Word To

30. "Lip Gloss" — Lil' Mama

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The Publishing of T.S. Eliot's Correspondence: What is Life's Poetry Without Irony?

Volume 8 of Eliot's letters has now been published by Faber & Faber, and the poet who preached the irrelevance of a work's author once again eludes self-limitation.

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T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948.

Often said to be the chief representative of modernist poetry, he is also considered by many to be the most significant poet of the 20th century.

Author of "The Waste Land", "Four Quartets", and "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats", he is both endlessly enjoyed and endlessly debated.


T.S. Eliot, for the sake of his fans and for that of academics with a vested interest in his legacy, now has his life further displayed to the eyes of the world. The massive project of publishing his correspondence has reached its eighth volume, and two more years of his life (1936-1938) are now further open to scrutiny. The supreme irony here is that Eliot, who stipulated in his will that there never be a biography written of him, would not have thought very kindly of the idea of prying into his personal life in order to interpret his poetry.

In fact, he preached an entire theory of poetry opposed to such an idea.

In his 1919 essay "Tradition and the Individual Talent", he argues at length that, when judging the value of a work of poetry, the work's authorship is totally irrelevant. The reader should value the work in and of itself. Thus we arrive at a purer form of encountering art, one supposes; this was a solemn creed for the modernists. The reader of Joyce's "Ulysses" or Eliot's own "The Waste Land" either becomes comfortable with the paradox of not understanding as itself a form of understanding or rejects the work as something as far as possible from "Art" as it can possibly be. This is a form of experiencing art that places the experience at the forefront. Art is not meant to mean anything; rather, it is meant to be experienced, or, rather, the experience of it is its meaning. The text is what is important, and discussing the history behind it or the context of its creation is useless, weighing the reader down. Let the poet empty himself entirely of self, Eliot urges in his essay, and let the poetry be poetry.

Eliot was an imperfect man, but one flaw that he definitely lacked was stupidity. How could a man famous the world over seriously request that no biography be written of him; how could he stand so firmly and purely for an artistic posture as to propose that it be translated into a code of conduct? The answer, I suspect, is a beautiful one, and one just as complex as his best poetry.

When Eliot converted from (agnostic) Unitarianism in 1927 to the Church of England and set himself on the path of spending the rest of his life as a committed Anglo-Catholic, he completely scandalized his literary circle. Not only did such people as Virginia Woolf consider it offensive for someone to go in for organized religion, it seemed totally incomprehensible that someone like Eliot, who so eloquently demonstrated the beauty of artistic iconoclasm, would go in for what seemed to be the very essence of an aesthetically useless, dying, old world order. Eliot, however, never considered his conversion to be a break; rather, he simply thought of it as development. "Ash-Wednesday" is certainly not written in the same style as "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock". That they have themes in common is undeniable.

The Unitarianism that Eliot inherited from his family was not at all concerned with the Incarnation of Christ; Anglo-Catholicism, however, was obsessed with it. There is no personality behind divinity in the former; in the latter, it is essential that the creator be accessible through the creation. The distance between the work and the author is emphasized in the former, while the proximity is stressed in the latter. There is nobody behind the poem in the theory articulated in "Tradition and the Individual Talent". In Anglo-Catholic theology, the world revolves around the presence of the Body behind the work.

Orthodox Christianity rejoices in paradox; thus, Christ's self-emptying (kenosis) in becoming Man is a complete unclothing from the state of divine exaltation, even as the state of divinity is simultaneously retained. If the author of a work is a god and the work is his creation, then the theory of poetry Eliot encourages us to hold is analogous to agnosticism or atheism. Yet Eliot believed in a type of Christianity as far from agnosticism as possible, refusing to ignore the presence of God and the saints. Eliot's play "Murder in the Cathedral" portrays martyred archbishop Thomas Becket as a man who empties himself of self, yet he is a man whose name is after death immortalized by those who venerate him, while the physical remains of his earthly existence become objects of devotion. Eliot preached anonymity, yet the world is hardly going to forget him any time soon. Eliot might have outwardly wished that his name be forgotten and his poetry remembered, but he may have inwardly wished that he be both forgotten and remembered at one and the same time, that his name remain forever caught up in the glorious paradox that is itself really the essence of poetry. We can, I venture, make good use of our opportunity to pry into Eliot's life, even while recognizing that he would have protested, even while recognizing that such prying is fully connected to a side of his art that is totally indispensable.

We can, in a word, be totally atheistic believers in his art, recognizing that only in such a way can we recognize the greatness of poetry capacious enough to go beyond itself even while remaining itself and nothing else.

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