I talked to my friend today. He said that while he was in Africa a few weeks ago, he and his family went to a game reserve. He said that it was breathtaking. As he looked out the SUV’s window, while the convoy weaved down a dirt path, he had this desire to throw the door open and run out and be IN the reserve; grabbing clumps of grass with his bare hands.
But he couldn’t do that because lions roamed the reserve. He felt like there was all this beauty in front of him and he could only experience it from a distance.
We started talking. Man, isn’t that just life?
We all know that it could be so much better. We can see something great on the horizon, but no matter how far we run, it still seems farther away. All the ingredients are there for an amazing experience. An exciting color-filled-richness is just out of reach, a place where all our senses are overwhelmed by vibrance and wonder.
We get something else, don’t we? Something tame. Something, boring even. Something frustrating and exhausting instead.
Vibrant is replaced with bland.
Wonder is replaced with mundane.
Excitement is replaced with commitments and time constraints and bills and meetings and progress reports and paperwork.
It’s all available:
Vast oceans – check
Deep forests – check
Fragrant flowers – check
Mysterious wildlife – check
Whistling wind – check
Tall mountains – check
A body to climb – check
Lungs to breathe – check
Eyes that see beauty – check
Ears that hear – check
A nose that smells – check
It’s all there, yet we are stuck in little drywalled boxes – staring at computer screens.
It’s not just beauty were missing, we miss purpose and meaning and depth in our relationships.
Quality time is such a big deal for me. I want to spend every waking moment (almost) with the people I love. Heck, I want to spend moments with people I don’t know too, as long as they are interesting and challenging.
But I don’t get half the quality time that I would like. I sit in my room a lot and rifle through my contact list and call almost everybody. Mostly, people are spending time with their kids or going on double dates or having a night in or are working late. I get it. We are all busy. But that doesn’t change the fact that my heart wants to experience community so badly.
Meeting new people is challenging.
I play guitar at open mic nights and I meet other musicians. After I’ve waited the “appropriate” amount of time, I ask for their number and say we should hang out. I feel like I really connect with some folks, but I set up a date to hang out a week later and get completely blown off.
It’s like people are unwilling to expand their little circles. Circles that make them feel safe and like they’re in control. I heard a joke one time that said, “People talk about Jesus and his miracles. Walking on water. Turning water into wine. But they never talk about his most impressive miracle, having twelve close friends in his early 30s.” That joke got even more real as everyone in my ENTIRE life got married.
I have a desire to always be in community. This is not being fulfilled.
I have a desire to experience the beauty of nature everyday. This has not been fulfilled.
I have a desire to make music with cool people. Stuff gets in the way.
I have a desire to make a living off my writing. I’ve made about $50 so far.
It sounds like a lot of complaining and it may well be, but it’s also true. And it’s true for every single person that I meet. I have said this so many times. I walk around and I see no one who is content. I don’t see a single person who experiences the kind of peace that reverberates throughout a whole life.
I do see people who experience glimpses. I even see people who experience way more glimpses than the average.
I have to wonder, is contentment something that can truly be felt in this life? Or is life just a struggle to try and find tiny moments of clarity and peace.
How do we move forward?
I wish I had the most profound answer to this, but I might have to turn to a well known “Eastern” philosopher: Alan Watts.
He says that man only suffers when he takes seriously what is meant for fun.
He says that we don’t experience the present.
He says the meaning of life is to be alive, but what we do instead is try and achieve something beyond ourselves.
He says if you live for money, you waste your time.
He says faith is letting go.
He says Jesus Christ knew he was God so, wake up and know who you are.
He says If you are writing, then you are a writer.
He says take a deep breath and tell us something that will save us from ourselves.
He says tell us your deepest darkest secret.
He says plunge into change.
He says never pretend to love something you don’t feel.
* * *
He says a whole lot of things on a whole lot of subjects and I’m glad for people like him. Reading those quotes actually really helped me. My take away from all of them is:
You are enough.
Just you. That’s it.
The quest is to find the richness in life:
- Don’t take yourself or anyone else too seriously
- The present is more powerful than your dark past or anxious future
- You are enough; do what comes naturally
- Waste money, not time
- There is force bigger than you (call it what you like – God, reality, momentum, force, energy) understand the scale of that larger entity
- Be the thing that you already know you are
- Titles don’t just belong to the masters
- What will the world lose without your voice?
- Set someone free because of your vulnerability, we all seem to believe we are completely alone and you can look straight into someone’s eyes and say, “I am right here with you”
- Change is inevitable, jump in with both feet
- Do not follow false loves
I hope for a day when everything that is wrong will be made right. I hope for a day when all the sad things will come untrue. I hope we can experience the fullness we all know is out there but cannot seem to reach. I hope for complete contentment and peace. The kind of peace that surpasses all understanding.
I hope for a day when my friend and I can go to that reserve in Africa, jump out of the land rover and dig our hands into the beauty of that countryside and laugh about when all of it was out of our reach.
(This post is dedicated to Bevan Binder – a man filled with hope and wonder)