Month: February 2014

“Life’s for the living…”

          So, it’s been a while.  What can I say?  One year later…it seems like eons ago and yesterday at the same time.  A new chapter in life feels so removed from the previous, as if all other times were dreams, vivid but far away.  What happened, you might ask?  Well, reality hit me, and let’s just say a sack of bricks would have been more subtle.  All my life, I’ve been excited about the next step, new responsibilities and freedoms, all that jazz.  Now, for the first time ever, I sort of don’t want to be an adult anymore.  I don’t really mean that, but sometimes everything is so overwhelming and there’s no one else to rely on and I am forced to face the fact that I am human.  Contrary to my previous adolescent delusions, I do have limits–furthermore, I’m getty pretty darn close to exceeding them (if I didn’t already manage to do so at the close of last semester).  Seriously, I was not ready for the holiday break to end.  Rest is so beautiful.  I remember those childhood sleepovers where my friends and I would stay awake all night for…the fun of it?!  Now all-nighters are a matter of life of death (of my GPA, that is, although they still might kill me).  Now that classes are well underway, I’ve summoned up a smidgen of that customary excitement for a new semester.  However, maybe I’ve understood the whole issue the wrong way.  Yes, feeling happy is great, but the end of such emotions is inevitable.  Maybe joy has more in common with struggling to your feet and taking that one step further into the fog than with sailing waters as clear as the blue sky above.

          After asking what my major is (music, if you didn’t already know), people invariably inquire, “what are you going to do with it?”  Heck, even I ask others this question sometimes–it’s just the easiest thing to ask.  Look, after spending four years without rest, doing constantly, maybe I will want to stop doing and start being.  You know what I’ll do with my degree (or without it)?  I’m going to live!  If this time is practice for existence enslaved to (aptly named) deadlines, then I want no part in it.  What is this living death glorified by the media, where stress rules, schedules exceed a decent number of waking hours, and the family is a loosely affiliated group of doers (extracurricular activities, work, entertainment, whatever)?  The only ones who seem to benefit are the corporations who make the products of living for those who have no time.  How nice of them to free you up to make money!  In exchange for the money that they freed you up to earn, of course…. (This might be called irony.)  Why do we assent to such a ludicrous, vicious cycle?  It’s spiraling downward, dying, pulling all of us willing victims (aka consumers) along with it.  Well, guess what: all industries are merely temporal, including the university industry (think about it.  Students are mass-produced to be marketed to employers, and they’ve even been convinced by some clever devil that they actually want to be sold off to the highest bidder–oh excuse me, paycheck.).

         This semester is going to be difficult, too, but in a different way.  I suppose the last few months have been a wake-up call, and now it’s time to get down to business.  The time ahead will stretch me quite a bit, but I suppose that is a cause for thankfulness.  With the two most advanced guitarists in the college ensemble graduated and gone, I’ll need to work extra hard to lead there (praying that my wrist injury doesn’t flare up again–ever).  As a mentor for an honors core course, I am anticipating a huge challenge.  I find myself responsible for a group of 12 people, with no one else to rely upon.  Our first meeting was too often visited by what I like to call AMOS–Awkward Moments of Silence.  As most of you know, any intelligence that I possess has been gained at the expense of essential people skills, and I am now realizing that the latter just might be more important, in the long run.  I’m taking karate as an elective, and it’s intense.  It’s like the group is a family, and being there is like stepping into another culture–well, I suppose that’s literally what it is.  I’m also taking jazz dance, which promises to be challenging but incredibly fun.

          Mainly, I just need to learn to relate/communicate/live/etc. with other people.  My stupid pride has blinded and hindered me for too long.  So authority and community are both essential, despite my foolish disdain.  Being a lone wolf is a strength sometimes, but also an incredible weakness.  If I want to inspire and effect change, I need to be someone worth following, but equally, I need to be someone that people want to follow.  I don’t mean that I need to try to please people above all else or make them like me by compromise.  No, I need to love people, truly caring and sacrificing for them.  Why did people follow Jesus?  Not because they loved him, but because He loved them. (I must give credit for that piece of wisdom to my awesome dad.)

          When I read my writings from the past few years, I am struck by how much God has changed me.  How arrogant I was! But I also remember beginning the path that I now tread, and every experience has directed me, in one way or another.  Therefore, I am thankful for all of it.  Without the heartache, confusion, stress, and loneliness, I would not be who I am today.  Remembering and pondering the past also gives clarity and stamina in the present.  Yes, I have a love/hate relationship with my life right now, but I am reminded that this is an intense bout of identity formation.  I eagerly await that day that I can view these times in hindsight; what will I see?

          I suppose that one thought in the forefront of my mind is this: Nothing that happens to you is wasted.  We are finite and fickle, swayed by petty circumstances, fortunate that we do not receive what we think we desire.  How quickly and thoughtlessly we would wish away each arduous climb, each dark hour groping for lost light, each slow-healing scar that memory once again rends.  Be still.  This will pass, as all has.  You will come out, but you will not be the same.  There is no going back.  Those who give up may halt, some may end it all.  Time, steady, heartless, merciful Time, she will never blot out the course of history etched upon her train.

          Keep in mind your treasure.  What do you desire above all else?  Not what you crave, but what will eternally satisfy you.  When are you alive?  Find those moments where eternity slips quietly into Time’s constraints, where everything makes sense in an absolutely logic-transcending way.  You will know it, for the rest of your life fades like a shadow at dusk.

          The other thought in my mind is this: people matter.  Well, of course!  You’re all thinking that I’m incredibly dense, and to that I also heartily assent.

          Here’s to life!  Let us never be so caught up in surviving that we forget to live.