The summer disappears so fast. Classes start again tomorrow. It’s interesting to note that I’ll only undergo this shift from summer to school once more in my life. Sometimes the days just seem to blend together. A chaotic blur of life. Then one day something dawns on you and you wonder how you could be day dreaming your way through life. Somehow you’ve managed to miss the point. It’s the story of my life. But there’s no use kicking myself now. So it’s time to return to school. Back to thinking, back to questioning, back to a challenge. It’s a wonder that we back away from these things come summer. Maybe it’s just from overload. At least I hope that’s the case. I’d hate for the rest of my life to be a permanent summer of backing down from engaging thought. There’s something gratifying about using the intelligence God had given us.
Where are you, Lord? I shout so loud and I look so hard that I can’t find you in the quietness. I hardly stop to take a momentary pause and look to you. But why do I even ask the question? I know where you are. You’re right here, with me, where you’ve always been. You have never forsaken me. I’m the one who doesn’t take the time to let you into my life. But everyday is a new day, and you prod me to forget about the past. Let’s make today a new day then, Lord. Forgive my selfishness.
Here I am.
I stand in the middle of the shell of my bedroom. A quiet and empty monument to days gone by. Quiet and empty because I’m away at college, and now seldom come back–not even for the summer. The room is even emptier and less my room because the bed is gone–taken during my parents’ separation–leaving behind an empty and discolored patch of carpet. That’s probably the color the rest of the faded, off-white carpet is supposed to be. Memories and treasures are all that remain–the stuff too important to throw out, but not important enough to bring with me.
You don’t even know. You don’t know the pain you’ve caused, the lives you’ve damaged, the eternities you’ve cursed. All because of your child-like bickering. You had to have your politics, you had to have your way. And the whole time the world was watching. They were watching you prove their very arguments against you. You’ve become their best evidence. You’ve solved their burden of proof dilemma. And for what? An ego trip? To tighten your reigns of power? You make me sick. You filthy hypocrites. How dare you preach the love and compassion of the Son of God on Sunday and practice the deceit and lust of the Angel of Light on Monday. Surely no one is perfect, we all make mistakes. I concede that. But look what you’ve done. All I can do is throw my hands up in the air, hang my head in shame, and cry out, “God forgive us.”
When things get back to normal, it’ll be okay. Back where things are comfortable and familiar, back in a place you can call home.
I hate to be the one to brake it to you, but you can’t go back. You can’t ever go back. Things can’t go back to normal. What you call comfortable, familiar, and at home is all in the past. It’s all behind you, and it will never be the same again. We live in the present, not the past, and the present is always changing, never familiar, constantly full of surprises.
It’s true that we can’t go back to the way things used to be, but we can make them better than they used to be. Why relish in past joys that have been gone so long, when new joys await around the next bend? You can find the familiar and the comfortable here and now in the present, if only you’d look. You have to seek it, but it is there. And the moment you realize it’s familiar and comfortable, it’s gone, and it’s in the past, it’s a golden memory, and now you’re experiencing something new.
The group of friends I used to hang out with in high school is anything but the same group now. Some have gone, some have changed, others have come into the group. If I cling to the old memories of that gang of friends, I’ll never be happy in the present. But if I embrace the change and stop waiting for things to get back to normal, then I’ll find new and greater memories unfolding before me.
Life is constantly changing. So hang on.
Every day is a new day. Open doors of possibility and potential. Opportunity for surprise, for joy, for sorrow.
Today is a new day. A new chapter. A new beginning. Sometimes all you can do is hold on tight and grit your teeth until this wild ride quits tossing you around. But maybe when it stops tossing you around is when things get comfortable, and who wants to be comfortable?
Sometimes life gets twisted on you and you don’t know which way is up. You don’t know which way to turn. You don’t know where to call home. But at least my feet are on the rock.
Where have you gone today? Out to play, again? Why are you so wrapped up in your own little world? Every time I turn around that’s where you are. I thought you had better things to do. I thought you wanted to do something, be somebody. I thought you dreamed of changing the world. But look what you’ve become. True, you’re not there yet, but you’re on the road that leads to destruction. You’re turning in to what you hate. You try so hard to erase the hypocritical lies that plague society like poisoned pixie dust–and there you go, falling for the same trap. You judge and sentence them with one quick glance, convicting all with your mighty gaze. Just when will you look in the mirror? Lost in your days of pleasure, just not too sure of what’s going on. You can’t fix anything until it’s too late, so don’t start just yet. I have no qualms with what you’re doing, it’s what you’re not doing that bothers me so. Read a chapter from your own book–or make it simple and read one from mine. Perhaps you shouldn’t be reserving your harsh words and harsh thoughts everyone else. You say you want to change the world, well you better start with yourself.
Three weeks ago I was in Chicago. Two weeks ago I was in Detroit. Last week I was in Kansas. This week I’m in Detroit. Next week I’ll be in Minneapolis. I’ve crossed state lines 16 times in 14 days, and I’ll cross four more next week.
So I’ve been kind of busy.
I’m some kind of traveling road tramp. Maybe I’ll come visit your state. In all that traveling I have noticed a few things (aren’t I always “noticing” things). Iowa and Indiana tie for best state motto’s: “You make me smile,” and “The Crossroads of America,” respectively. We must make them smile because we actually came to (or through) their state. And the crossroads of America? There’s a good tourist campaign waiting to happen.
But if I seem a little harsh, never fear, my own state probably has the worst slogan that greets you as you cross the state line: “Michigan – Great Lakes, Great Times.” It’s about as creative as their last slogan, “Yes Michigan.” But enough cynical bashing of state motto’s.
So here I sit in front of the TV again. With you. It’s been an extremely lazy day. A typical summer day that I’ve missed so far. Doing nothing. Believe it or not, I can’t stand it. I need something to do. Man is a strange creature. Half the time we want to get our work done so we don’t have anything to do, but once we have nothing to do, we’re bored and have to find something more to do. Oh the joys of life.
I went to the zoo today with a bus load of preschoolers. If today were a normal day, I’d have some intelligent comments to make, some observations, and something you can take home with you. But today’s not a normal day. It’s my lazy summer day, and thinking is not allowed.
Another Gen X movie that makes me question what’s purist and what’s simply commercial drivel. I myself am probably slightly on the purist end of things–so I’ve been told from the more normal minded. But is it simply a story about finding yourself in life, just to make a buck, or is there actually more to it than that. Somehow I walk away wondering where I am in it all. This is a movie of my generation. But why do I feel like I’m standing on the edge asking why? Feeling like I don’t belong. Perhaps I don’t. I don’t think that’s quite what it’s all about. But that’s another purist tirade that probably just misses the point.
School starts in two weeks. Maybe the intelligence will return then. Then again, maybe not.
Kansas. My girlfriend and I just returned from a trip to the land of Dorothy and Toto. Six months ago my mother commanded me to be in Kansas on August 15th. We were celebrating my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary, and it was mandatory that I be there–no excuses accepted. So my girlfriend, Abby, and I squeezed into my truck and journeyed 13 hours from Chicago to Central Kansas. Quite a difference, let me tell you.
If you’ve never been to Kansas, there’s a few things you should know. The noon meal is called “dinner.” The evening meal is called “supper.” In Kansas, “lunch” and “dinner” are synonymous, not “dinner” and “supper.” Also, I drive a ’93 Ford Ranger. It is referred to as a “pickup,” not a “truck.” A “truck” is what I call a “semi.” If I were in Kansas and called my Ranger a “truck,” I’d get a few weird looks.
Aside from the lingo, there’s some other differences. Accents for one. My mother was born and raised in Kansas, and although she hasn’t lived here for over twenty-five years, she still slips into the old accent in a matter of days. Life is also a lot slower out here. Safer too. I never bothered to lock my “pickup.”
You can also see. There’s no hills or buildings or stores or lights to block your view. The horizon is all that stretches out before you, and quite seriously, it’s beautiful to see the vast expanse of open sky. Who would have thought that you’d see something beautiful in the middle of Kansas. God does have his surprises, doesn’t He?