A watery life

Water is boring.  And life… Life can be boring, too.

The problem runs deeper than boring.  That word triavilizes the whole affair. 

Life can seem empty.  It can seem pointless.  It can seem tastless colorless and stale.

There are times when it just seems like a vicious circle: We have a car in order to get to work and go to work in order to pay for the car.  We work so that we can live and we live so that we can work.

There are times that everything we’ve worked for, everything we have once believed in, everything that once seemed so very precious… It’s just suddenly rings so hollow.

Thousands of years ago, Solomon said:

I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
       I refused my heart no pleasure.
       My heart took delight in all my work,
       and this was the reward for all my labor.

 11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
       and what I had toiled to achieve,
       everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
       nothing was gained under the sun.

Hundreds of years ago, Shakespeare put Hamlet through this experience.  One modern language version puts it like this:

I have lately, but I don’t know why, lost all my joy,
given up my customary activities, and indeed, things are so heavy on
my mind, that this grand place, the earth, seems to me to be a
barren promontory, and this wonderful canopy, the sky – look
at it – this splendid firmament above us, this majestical roof inset
with golden sunlight, why, it only looks to me like a foul
and diseased condensation of vapors. What piece of work is a
man? How noble his reason, how infinite his faculties. In form and
motion, how expressive and admirable in action! How like an angel, in his apprehension, how like a god! The beauty of the world, the
paragon of animals. Yet to me, what is this quintessence of
dust?

Today, we speak of our existential angst, our depression, our sense of meaninglessness.  I am not suggesting that these experiences are the same thing.  I am suggesting that their is this common thread.   On one level, we know that in the abstract, things are enjoyable.  But we just can’t find the joy in them. 

There was a time in my life that I had lots of freedom.  A time I allowed myself to do some things I probably should have not been doing.   I fufilled all sorts of appetites.  I had my share of excesses.

And for a while… it was enough.  Fun was enough.  Fun was great, in fact.  I thought I’d want to live my whole life that way.  And then…

Then, it wasn’t enough anymore.  I needed something more.  All these things that I was doing, they had their price.   Once they had been vibrant, ecstatic even.  But eventually… eventually they were like water.  Odorless, colorless, joyless.

We all know that when the old thrills stop be thrilling we have two choices.  The first is to step things up a notch.  The second is to shrug our shoulders, give up…. And just go through the motions.

We can live off water.  But who would want to?  Sometimes, in life, it’s like our whole diet, our whole world is boring, room-temperature water.

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

2 thoughts on “A watery life”

  1. You’re question comes right on cue, Garret. The barest hint of a remedy is sketched out in my latest post “wine…” Over the next several days I’ll be filling this sketch in. .. But I actually think you’re going to catch on where I’m going pretty quickly and anticipate some of what I have to say.

    Like

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