Wednesday, June 23, 2010

history

It’s a bit brighter down here than it has been in recent memory. It’s also a bit quieter…. Probably because people are getting their caffeine to go in order to enjoy the 5 minutes of sun. I don’t have that luxury today, I have work to do. Specifically, at this time of the morning, I’m engaged in keeping my head above water in my attempt at higher education. I’ve got to tell you honestly that Summer classes suck. I’m glad that Summer school was never part of my routine back in my high school days when I actually knew what I was doing. School should be from September to May. Anything more is quite depressing. I’ll also tell you that the Summer class thing is even worse when you’re not enjoying the class in question.
I admit that this is a first for me in the “not enjoying” part of this journey.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

mortal

So this is like the 4th week in a row that looks exactly the same down here. It’s gloomy, misty, gray, and damp. I feel like I’m in “Ground Hog Day”. It’s been an unusual Spring, even for the “land of the concrete sky”. I am confident that, any day now, we’ll break out of this and it’ll be Summer once more in the most amazing place to ever spend a Summer. It’ll be none too soon as I have a long list of outdoor projects that need attention before THE EVENT happens in August. I still imagine, even on days like this, that I’ll have time to finish. Who am I kidding? I’ll never finish because I’ll never be finished. There is always “one more thing” …. “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie”. Some of you know what I mean by this… the rest of you can rely on Google to figure it out.
Anyway… I used to think that, with enough time, I could accomplish anything. I handle my graduate studies that way. I handle my house projects that way. Sometimes, I’ll confess, I handle my teaching prep time in my “community o’ faith” that way. I learned both in college and as a parent, that even though there are only 24 hours in a day, I could use as many of them as I needed to accomplish a task and sleep could slide a bit. Now as a grandpa, and on the backside of my fourth decade of existence, I am finding that time no longer works that way. Our princess has driven home the point that sleep, for me, is not optional any longer. And my body has driven home the point that my waking hours are no longer what they used to be. Two injuries in two weeks have wiped hours of productivity from my map which has not only affected my ability to do the physical, around the house, tasks, but has also placed my graduate studies timeline in jeopardy.
It’s interesting how the physical has impacted the mental. My graduate studies require no more physical effort than getting myself and my laptop to a chair. It’s the realization that I have limits that moves even into my mental tasks. It takes away confidence and creates so many distractions and questions. The realization that I am mortal has come like an unwanted visitor. This is sort of amusing to me at the same time as one who holds on to the hope of immortality and eternity and all of the promises that my faith brings. It’s not that I doubt any of this. In fact in a strange way, I think my finally owning my mortality makes the promise of immortality even more appealing. It’s like the gold at the end of the rainbow or the finish line tape at the end of a marathon. It keeps me moving through life and trying to fit in as much as I can. After all, I am promised that when Jesus comes for me I’ll receive a new body and an unlimited amount of time. Some days that just sounds really appealing.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

running

Sitting here watching all of the commuters running for busses, I wonder where each is going. Are they running because they’re late or because they can’t wait to start their day? It’s graduation time again and I’m wondering how many of them this morning are “living the dream” that they envisioned on the day of their own graduation. This week, in my community of faith, as part of my pastoral opportunity, I am in a group that is reviewing applications for scholarships that we are privileged to be the stewards of. There are plenty of dreams listed. I can’t help but wonder how many of these will be realized. Where will they be running off to on a Wednesday morning, some years down the road?
We live in the land of dreams, where we tell our wide eyed graduates that the world is their oyster, ready to be plucked from the sea. We don’t tell them about oil spills that may threaten to destroy the oyster of their dreams. We avoid the difficult conversations of failure and the trials of tragedy that may lie just down the road. We have no way of knowing and even if we did, they don’t want to hear it any more than an engaged couple wants to hear about the complexities of marriage. They are, as we were, free to be anything and everything.
Graduation speakers like to say things like “be all you can be” … oh wait, that’s Army recruiters…whatever. You can be whatever you dream that you can be. You can go wherever your dreams take you. It’s popular. It’s inspiring. It sells books. It’s also a load of crap. Well, to be fair, not all of it is. However, what we should be telling them is that you can do, see, and become whatever you’re engaged in. The issue is not the dreams. The issue is in showing up to engage the process that leads there. We’re not a generation of problem solvers anymore. We’re a generation that runs from them. If your marriage isn’t all that you dreamed it would be, run. If your job isn’t all you imagined it would be, run. If it seems that life hasn’t given you enough, run. It would be disingenuous of me to say that running is never the answer. It very well may be the end answer, but it should never be the first response. Sometimes the only way to move forwards is to go backwards and discover where you might have wandered from the path and to reengage the journey from there.
As a fairly new grandpa to a beautiful little princess, I wonder if that’s not part of the joy that I feel spending time with her. Even though I imagine that I was a decent parent, with Lily there is a chance to reengage a part of that journey and to do some things differently. In her life, I have the privilege to go backwards even as I am still moving forward. If you are presently a parent, it might be that all you need to do, in order to go back and reengage a relationship that is not what you had always imagined, is to say you’re sorry. Use a “do-over” if you need to. Teach your kids that life is not necessarily linear like we’d like it to be. Sometimes you have to go backwards to move forwards… to learn from mistakes…. to reengage the dream. Someday, some years down the road, maybe I’ll see them running….and it won’t be because they’re late. It’ll be because they can’t wait to get back to their dream.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

same

Some days are better than others. I can sit and stare at this sentence for the next hour until my grande drip goes cold and no longer holds the potential of a lawsuit, but it won’t change its truth. Even though I know this intellectually, some days seem to go out of their way to drive this reality home. So I come down here where I can get a sense of same and seek to begin again. A seat in front of the fireplace with a waterfront view is helpful. A good set of earphones with some Jars of Clay running through my brain, drowning out the disjointed conversations around me is even better. An open schedule which gives me an entire morning to shuffle brain cells back in place is the best.
It is interesting that in a place like this, some come here to gather in groups and others come here to avoid groups altogether. I fall into the latter category. That’s where the headphones come in. And guess what… as I am typing this in “real time” a gentleman sits down across from me , I’ve had this experience before with him, and seems to ignore the obvious fact that I am wearing headphones. So I’m typing this … he’s asking me questions, and I’m nodding …. While still typing …. And who says I can’t multi task. I’m nodding like I know what he’s saying, although I do know what he’s saying even though it sounds like Charlie Browns teacher, because he’s made the exact same comments on at least 3 other occasions. He’s liking my laptop. I think that the Book of Books would refer to this as coveting. I must admit that, compared to some others, my laptop is kind of cool with its burgundy case and back lit keys. Now I’m nodding again to a preschool boy who is pointing out the fire in the fireplace to me and questioning me on the whereabouts of the nearest fire truck. He doesn’t see headphones either. His mom does though and she’s now trying to shoo him in mid questioning back to his seat. Laptop guy is now wondering out loud, again, where one might find a laptop like mine. If one of you reading this can IM the guy and tell him Best Buy for the third time, I might be able to clear my brain. This is why I try to get here at the butt crack of dawn.
In front of me are two high school girls playing musical chairs while texting and passing notes at the same time. Impressive…. I wonder if they teach that as an elective at West Seattle High? And now as they have just finished their dance, I have a mother/daughter team pulling their chairs into a cozy set up right behind me to chat about who knows what. It seems as if clearing the brain is not something that is in the cards for me this morning. Same doesn’t seem to be same at least on this day no matter how I wish it would be so. Even Jars of Clay has faded into the distance and the sounds of the room are pouring in again around my ear buds. Well at least I still have the fireplace.