Monthly Archives: July 2010

…for breathlessness!

I started blogging a couple of weeks ago refreshed, renewed. And then I started summer school. And then my efforts at work became more involved. And then I started doing writing gigs. And going to concerts. And visiting friends. And writing letters. And even extra things, things that I’m not entirely sure that I’m capable of, like long-distance research efforts with professors.

I’m swamped right now. I think today is the first time I’ve logged on this blog for several weeks. A couple of weeks ago, I drove along to work in a rather positive demeanor. Now, I spend my mornings cursing at the sky because I’m running late, and I spend my evenings cursing at the ceiling because I’m rushing to get my paperwork done.

“I wake up later every day,” I tell my dad. He tells me to stop thinking so negatively, to think positive thoughts. I look at my breakfast, and tell him that I can’t eat eggs every day, because I need to be healthy. I tell him to look closer at the numbers for paying for school this fall. I tell him that he’s too optimistic. I tell him that I probably won’t be able to make it to the coffee shop on time before I go to class because it’s late. I’m talking, and talking, and talking.

Now that it’s the end of the day, and I’m at my computer, screen folded out, keyboard in front of me, papers strewn across a desk. I can’t think. The first thing I want to do is put on a record and stare at the wall. I want to complain to my friends about my busy existence. I want to do fun things. I want to tell them how it’s not fair to commute daily to a college town where I have no friends. I want to talk about a missed connection that I had with a girl last week, because she looked at me and smiled at me, which obviously means that she was “the one”, whatever the hell that means.

I want to rant to you, reader, whoever you are, wherever you are.

But honestly?

It’s just not worth it. I’m breathless when I talk, and when I write, my fingers grow tired. And all the pulling out of my hair, both figurative and literal, isn’t really worth it. I spend a great deal of energy lamenting over energy lost. It’s all kind of silly, and I’m just now realizing it, now that summer is two-thirds of the way gone. Which, I’m almost ready to lament over that.

This morning, during a meeting with a professor, we were talking about the future. About what life might look like for me after graduation, about what it could look like for me. I was ready to answer his questions with statistics and drawn out plans, when he threw me a complete curveball: he looked at me dead in the eyes, and asked me why I get out of bed in the morning. And if the future I was creating for myself would continue to get me out of bed in the morning.

And I was stunned.

He talked about how he gets out of the bed every morning. “I’m not a religious man,” he said, “But I am thankful every day. Thankfulness is what gets me out of the bed. When I commute all the way to work, I think about the men stories up in the roofs, working underneath the hot sun. They don’t have chairs. I think about that. I think about how if, I want to sit down, I have the privilege to sit down. I am truly a blessed man. Teaching…I certainly don’t do it for the paycheck, but I have enough to get me through.”

At which point I realized that I don’t even know why I get out of bed in the morning. I just do. I get out of bed for the “A”, for the “recommendation”, for the “pat on the back”. But beyond that? I don’t think about it. Not nearly enough. And I think this is why I haven’t been too thankful lately. I’ve been throwing tantrums, both audible and internal, based over how I have no free time anymore.

When all the while, I should be thankful that I have the opportunity to be busy.

It is for this reason, that at least for this evening, that I am thankful. For breathlessness. For being busy beyond orientation. For going to bed late and waking up early. For this opportunity; even if I don’t know where it is taking me.

What are you thankful for today?

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…for dancing!

I have family to tend to, so this will be brief.

Last night, I was blessed with the opportunity to be at a wonderful concert in Dallas. The band, Mates of State, are a husband and wife duo. The husband is on the drums, the wife on keyboard. The music was nothing too complex; too profound; or too revolutionary. Simple song structures and sing-along melodies had myself, along with every other person in town under the age of twenty-five, dancing and vocalizing our joy.

All too often I try to derive the deeper meaning of things. I live inside my head and am constantly thinking. Rationalizing, analyzing, and so on. But last night I joined along in the chorus and was simply happy. It felt good to be alive.

Sometimes in life, we need to enjoy ourselves.

I think of King David dancing in the streets, and how everyone around him must have laughed, turned away and thought less of him. I usually am those people. But last night, I experienced a little bit of the joy of, well, being alive.

Today, I am thankful for simplicity. For a respite. For dancing. What are you thankful for?

…for work!

Getting out of bed to go work is hard. There is this moment, well, moments, where I lay in bed and wish that I could bury my face in my pillow and sleep forever. And my alarm keeps going off. I stare at the ceiling fan above me, turning and turning. And I think. About responsibility, and about what lays for me beyond that bed.

Honestly, at the point I’m mostly thinking about coffee. But that’s not all I think about. I promise.

The morning drive often has at least a slight hint of dread to it. There’s something that’s just not all too invigorating about the thought of working for hours and hours upon end.

But when I finally do arrive to my job, get out of the car and shut the door, thankfulness sets in. Normally, this thankfulness stems from what I get by working. From credit. From money. From appreciation. But also, lately at least, this stems from the opportunity to work. And to have a chance to do work well.

A lot of my coworkers jokingly, or half-jokingly, complain about the boredom that stems from mountains of paperwork. From filing, copying, and memos. It’s fun to join in, because laughter feels good. It makes the glaring fluorescent lights a little more bearable.

One thing that I have tried to do a little differently with this job is to find joy in it through giving my best efforts. Through taking my work seriously. I often feel that I am a few steps away from becoming a Dwight Schrute, but part of what makes that character so funny is that work is not his goal.

There is something satisfying about a job well done. About not cutting corners. It’s tiring, but in the moment of hard work, it gives me a kind of energy. Refreshment. Athletes call this being “in the zone”. I was never much of an athlete, so I don’t really know what “the zone” is, but this is what I’d imagine it to be.

I never really know how to share my faith. Logically, a Christian-sponsored work environment isn’t necessarily the place to evangelize, but I see things every day that defy what I understand to be logical. Many of my coworkers don’t share my beliefs, which is something I’m fine with until they talk about beliefs. In which my mind tells me to vomit the basic Truths of Christianity in fifteen minutes.

That works for some people. But lately I’ve been wondering if silence in of itself is a kind of witness. Be honest with yourself–Christianity, or at least, religious Christianity, isn’t much of a secret in America. Most Westerners have heard of “Jesus”. I believe in Jesus, and I’m proud to believe in Him. But I don’t always believe in His “followers”. I wonder if we Westerners talk too much (in general, but especially about “Jesus”).

What if we witnessed through our actions rather than with our mouths?

A coworker of mine the other day was sharing their “lack of faith”, “agnosticism”, or whatever you’d like to call it. My other coworker rose up and asked question after question, offering basic digestible truths and advice. Watching that advice fall on deaf ears was a lot like watching water bead off of a raincoat.

I guess where I’m going with all this is that work is a kind of witness. And though work is hard in the same way that witnessing is hard, in doing so, we can learn to find joy in it. And this is what I have been doing lately, or at least today, through filing papers and making copies.

Today, I’m thankful for work. What are you thankful for?

…for existing!

Yesterday, I was thinking about this blog. About the reasons that I started it, about the little things in my life that I used to pay attention to that I now overlook on a daily basis. Often, multiple times in the same day. There’s little point in spinning something that’s happened to me into a bloated “introspective” essay when I spend a great deal of my days not thankful at all.

Which means that today, and hopefully for longer than today, I will look towards the little things.

I felt very thankful today for the sunrise. I woke up early, for once, and exercised. As I rolled out of bed, I rolled up the window blinds and gazed out into the gentle rays shimmering on the Texas grass. It’s easy to forget how beautiful the countryside is when you’re worried about your family, about the future, about finances, about what’s for dinner. When you think about all those things, and you have the kettle on, and the television talking, you’re too distracted.

I’ve been learning lately to embrace silence. Peace. I’m not one for this kind of thing, despite how my relaxed demeanor throws many of my friends off. If I’m not completing a task at any given moment, then I feel like I’m wasting my time. I forget just how invigorating it is to be.

To be is much more frightening than to do, buzzing around from one task to another. You numb yourself, you distract yourself. When the destination is the only goal, you forget the why of things. At least I do.

Exercising this morning, I took a little longer than usual while stretching. I’m sure any yoga master or pilates teacher would look at me for two seconds and begin to laugh, but I would laugh with them, after today. There is something in the release of taking one’s time. Inner stillness is actually far harder to accomplish than a swift jerking motion of the body while stretching. It takes time. It takes discipline.

I’ve been really worried about my future. The numbers haven’t been adding up in a way that I thought they were going to all those months ago when I was still in Indiana. The future seems far less certain than it did a while ago. And I feel less in control. God becomes distant, people become distant, even my sense of self becomes distant. And all I have left in my frantic, frazzled mind are aimless goals.

But today, I’ve been learning, at least a little, how to be, a bit more than I have been. And I’m thankful for this. I’m thankful for this country’s independence. And fireworks and barbecue, to be sure; but also for learning how to appreciate the freedoms bestowed upon us. Not merely the legislative ones, but the personal ones, that nature and nature’s Creator have so wondrously bestowed.

I’m thankful today for existing. What are you thankful for?