Monday, August 16, 2010

Off The Treadmill

I've had yesterday's post hanging over my mind since I wrote it, wondering if it was too bold or definitive or an overstatement of what I'm feeling right now. I decided not, as the more that I thought about the more I kept coming back to "Yes, that just about sums it up."

The feeling that I got yesterday after writing the post was the sense of being on a treadmill which is moving, but really going nowhere. So the question, I suppose, is how do I get off the treadmill and get on to a path which is actually going somewhere.

That presumes of course that 1) One is looking for the path and 2) Once one finds the path, one will take it.

But am I looking for that path? Or am I intent on following paths of my own choosing, paths that really just lead me back to the treadmill rather than actually having me walk further down it? If God has determined the way for me to go, what does the fact that I constantly seem to shy away from that path say about me?

I have tried (O Lord have I tried) to constantly negotiate with Him my path within His will, figuring out what would be the best way for me to serve Him instead of listening to what He had for me. I don't know that I did any permanent damage trying this approach but I certainly failed: failed to get to seminary (two times), failed to move into leadership, failed to become the teacher I hoped I would. Every vision I had of how I would serve Him and what I would do for Him failed - and even after those paths ended, there was the other visions of great things I would do as a layman. Those too seemed to fade away, falling faster and faster out of my hands until Old Home became New Home and those dreams seemed to be pulled away as well.

But every path is not blocked. There is at least one open - the one off of the treadmill. I would ask if I could find it, but the reality is it is probably already wide open before my eyes. Is it a question of I can't see it - or that I won't? "Can't" means that it is beyond my ability; "Won't" means that I am voluntarily choosing not to. And if it is "Won't" is it because it is a thing of true fear, or simply because it does not match what my own estimation of what I should be and should be doing?

Am I tired enough of hopelessness, of activity without motion, that I am willing to submit myself to the path laid before me? Or will my pride keep me rigidly in place, hoping that if I just run all the faster the treadmill will suddenly break off and I'll be moving?

2 comments:

silverline said...

I am reading this very interesting theory of a business model? Communication and collaboration via conversation. One of the main points is to ask questions that matter and questions that you don’t have answers for. That should inspire a conversation. So here are my questions.
What defines you as a person? Is it your family, your friends, people you work with, that define you? Do your thoughts and ideas define you? Is it the music you listen to, is it the art you like, the books you read? Or is it your actions? Are your actions ever noticed? Is it just the action that counts or does it have to impact others to matter? And what is the sufficient amount of impact? Do you have to change somebody’s life to be defined in yours? What makes your life count? How do you know what you are supposed to do here in this world? How about your feelings? Do they define you? Can you ever explain your feelings? Where do they come from, what do they mean? Are they just tricks of your mind? How do you make your life to matter? And what does it even mean? Will your life matter only when and if you do something important? Where does passion for life comes from? And if you had it once, when you were full of ideas, ideals, optimism, where did it disappear? And how do you get it back?

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

So now I have time to actually answer this....

What defines me as a person? What a wonderful question and something I don't think I've grappled with before.

Who I am? I would have to answer I don't have a clue. I try to organize my life into roles - Individual, Spouse, Parent, Christian, Author, Warrior, Leader, Manager - but those are roles and some cases reflect things I have do rather than a definition of who I am.

And does it matter? Then we get into that "roles versus responsiblities" conflict. My desires cannot overpower my responsibilities.

My ideal - my dream - growing up in high school was the classic knight errant, noble and honourable, fighting evil, rescuing damsels in distress, doing good. If had my choice, to fight for a noble cause (or for a beautiful woman) would be the greatest thing of my life.

Alas, there are no dragons and no crusades - at least for a man in my period of life, hemmed in by choices and commitments I must honor.

But that doesn't mean I want more. I desperately do. I've written before that I can conceptually understand why some man have complete freakouts during their midlife crisis.

What are my passions? Reading, writing, God, theology, music, language, swords, animals, gardening, history. Interestingly, nothing that I do for a living - or seeming could support me.

So I throw it back at you - how do I get it back?