Monday, January 31, 2005

What if everything you did mattered?

Many people have heard the question asked, what would Jesus do? It's become so familiar that to many it is just a cliche. I cannot say why with certainty, but I have never been able to let this phrase sink into my life. Maybe it's because I don't really know what Jesus would do. Maybe because what Jesus would do isn't exactly what I should do. Just because he didn't rebel against the government, doesn't mean I shouldn't. Because that wasn't his calling. (I'm not thinking of rebelling against the government, it just seemed a viable option for example, because of biblical examples where God commanded people to rise up against a certain ruler). But I was thinking the other night, as it shows in my last blog about purpose. Discontent. And the question that's been popping up in my mind ever since and hasn't left me alone is this: What if everything I did actually mattered? Everything. What if it mattered, whether I slept in or not. What if it mattered whether I read a book or watched tv. The thing is, it is so easy to have such a cavalier attitude toward such things. Well, what does it matter if I do such-and-such a thing for a little bit? Who cares, right? But the question is, what if it really did matter? What if it mattered, what I thought about the guy on the road that just cut me off. If it mattered, then I'd have to really do something about it. Whoa. If I think that way, I can't be lazy. Because every moment of every day and every thought and every action becomes important. That doesn't mean I've become good at thinking that way, but it comes to my mind oftentimes and I stop and think about what I'm doing/thinking/saying. I don't know why this hits me so much more than "what would Jesus do", but it does, and I hope to be able to live up to it.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Lost in Translation

I'm in the middle of watching Lost In Translation. It's the kind of movie that just tugs at me. There seem to have been a large number of that kind of movie coming out. The kind that lays bare the discontent that runs rampant throughout the world. I haven't seen the end yet, but it seems like, whatever the conclusions people make, everyone's wondering. Like in the title phrase in the movie, As Good As It Gets. Jack's character is in psychologist's office lobby and he asks of all the waiting, struggling, and disheartened people, "What if this is as good as it gets?" People wonder for half their lives who it is they're supposed to be and what it is they're supposed to do. It seems like they spend the other half trying to justify how they never figured it out. Somewhere along the line they decide that it's too late. The dream they were hoping to dream, even if they could really grasp it now, it would be too late. It's never going to happen. For myself, I can't decide if I have some sort of personal Legend that I'm supposed to fulfill or if I just have an arrogant sense of my own importantce. Billions of people in the world who just go through life, not even sure of why they're there, too afraid or too dense or too lazy to even ask the questions. Too cynical to believe in answers. Myself, I have a faith in God, particularly in Jesus, but that has become just a place to stand on, and my purpose, it seems, is too blurry for me to comprehend. I don't know if that's because it actually is a difficult thing to find or if some part of me is just what I said before about everyone else. Too lazy or selfish or proud or afraid or dense or complacent. I've heard that anyone at any time in their life is capable of fulfilling their personal legend. (for anyone who's read the Alchemist). But what do I make of that? I don't know if that's the key to humanity's problems or just plain naive. The amount of people in the world confounds my imagination. I like to observe people. I've listened to people talking to each other, and it just strikes me who people are always so concerned about their own little worlds. What if I lived my life like it wasn't my life that was important? It's true, though, that we can't go getting concerned about things that we're not going to actually affect in any way. That's no more than pageant contestants talking about world peace. We can't practically live our lives that way. On the other hand, what if I truly believed that every single action in my life mattered. What would it be like? Sometimes when I think about it, I know that I fear how unpleasant or boring or arduous it would be. I don't know if that's a realistic fear or not. Perhaps if I were really brave enough to live my life that way, my discontent and discouragement would disappear. Maybe. Or maybe I'd just end up distracting myself from it instead of really dealing with it. But I think of all the things that people are doing in life, all the junk that people fill their lives with, just to make themselves feel better for a while. From drugs to face-lifts to magazines to booze to just about anything. Is it possible to just celebrate life? I think it is, but usually I think that isn't what we do. Well, those are just some of the things on my mind.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Days of sickness

I was sick for a few days this week. It's a strange feeling, going through an ordeal, and at the end of it, realizing that you are a different person from the one you were. Not all my actions have changed. Not all my insides have changed. But in an odd way, I think I needed to be sick. I suffered, relatively mild compared to the rest of the suffering going on in the world every day, but it was a rough couple of days. It was in my moments of weakness that I for some reason came face to face with my faults. Perhaps it is because at other times I subconsciously use a significant amount of energy in keeping myself unaware of them, and while the remains of my energy were used up in fighting off a fever, I lost the subconscious control, and I had to look at myself and everything I did with real honesty. Maybe that was it. I don't know. Whatever the case, I had to look. The amazing thing about being sick, at least for me, is that it seems almost impossible to be stubborn in areas of morality and spirituality. I again don't know why that is. I seem to have no trouble stubbornly telling myself that I will be better soon. But to stubbornly argue against a rebuke (from the self or from God) or to ignore it altogether, I just cannot manage at these times. Not that I want to. Not deep down. But sometimes I do, you know? It's that energy thing again, I guess. You know, Deitrich Bonhoffer wrote, "the essence of chastity is not the suppression of lust, but the total orientation of one's life toward a goal." In other words, constantly fighting off temptation is not at the heart of being good. Constantly doing good is at the heart, and avoiding temptation is found in its wake. It's that total orientation of one's life thing that gets me. But I think, somehow, I'll learn to master it. With God's help, of course.