When I was a teenager I remember the horrible pressure I felt each Friday & Saturday night to be out doing something AMAZing or HILarious. And I remember the restlessness I’d feel every time I just stayed home; after all, what if people were out having fun and laughing and I wasn’t included? What if I was the butt of their joke? What if, by missing the joke, I missed out on learning what people really thought about me? Oh the anxiety and restless turmoil of those stay-at-home Saturday nights. It’s safe to say that I don’t miss teenagehood.
Times changed, I Uni’d the thirst for parties out of my system and now I have no problem staying in on a weekend; I’m really quite good and vegetating on a sofa in front of a film now.
Times have changed and so has the trigger for those emotions, but the restlessness still surfaces from time to time. Now it’s not so much about missing a party but about an opportunity, or not making the most of good health and youth. There is a reluctance in me to admit that life is a lot more mundane than I want it to be. That’s really what was going on when I was 18. I refused to admit (it couldn’t be true after all) that life wasn’t a constant weekend or a daily adrenaline/lust fuelled encounter. My restlessness was a wrestling match between reality and fantasy. I wanted life to be all consuming and intoxicating. I wanted life to exhaust me and exhilarate me and thrill me. Instead it just sort of was. Life just is and I’m a single solitary soul in the middle of an ecosystem that seems able to balance itself and sustain itself each morning just fine without me.
What I mean to say is that I think our need for adventures and for a good story is killing us. It was fine when we weren’t individuals like we are now; fine when our lives were connected more to our communities. Now that we’re expected to find a story/purpose big enough from within the confines of our own two eyes, I’m not sure we can cope. Individualism and the sovereignty of the individual is leaving red marks on our shoulders; this backpack’s too heavy to carry. I certainly can’t carry it, I don’t think I’m made to.
Left to ourselves, to myselves, life IS boring and we weren’t made for boring. There’s plenty of wonder and beauty and majesty and adventure in this world, but almost all of it takes place out there; outside ourselves shared with others.
The everyday, regular and mundane is only boring when it’s disconnected from any bigger meaning. I only need to ‘reinvent’ myself if the ‘myself’ I’ve invented is detached from the ‘ourselves’ of community/nation/family. Then again I don’t believe that community is enough either. Deriving more meaning from community/family/nation is certainly possible but I don’t believe that’s enough for us either. We are complex creatures who thirst for purpose and story; unusual since we’ve convinced ourselves that the thing we thirst for doesn’t really exist. It’s only when I see my life, and my friends and my virtue and my experiences, as things connected to ultimate reality that I start to discover a story big enough to rid me of the bored restlessness. It’s only then that my mundanes turn into memories, my chores become choruses and every routine becomes a worship ritual.
What I’m saying is that our lives (individually) matter to God. Our creator and Father takes delight in, and derives pleasure from us his creatures. He knows about the birds, he calls the sun out each day, he’s there with the mountain goats giving birth and he orchestrates the times and seasons of life under the sun. Our lives are not mean simply to become absorbed into nothingness, a corporate faceless, nameless blancmange of vanilla. He made us to be known by him, to know the pleasure he derives from us irrespective of success/achievement. Life may feel random and meaningless but it isn’t?
What if it was true that there is a story and a meaning and a reason for everything? Could it be that the reason our soul craves it is because it actually exists? After all, physical hunger exists because food does not in spite of it.
My life matters because God delights in me and my life is an adventure since he’s on an adventure and I’m with him. Life is boring when it’s about me but it isn’t, so it isn’t.
by Jez Field