The saddest thing about my current educational career is, I think, the level to which I am excited to spend my time off next summer re-reading the books in my Literature classes and actually paying attention.
What is better, a great many books at a rushed, incoherent pace, or a great few at a pace which promotes learning?
Recently a few friends of mine and I have been talking about living together. Not in the sense of getting an apartment together while we're all still single and men and whatnot, but in the quite permanent sense. Conversation has revolved around working up the funds to purchase for ourselves either an enormous old Victorian house or an entire city-suburb block within which would be housed ourselves, our respective significant others and progeny. It's been a wonderful thought, but each time we've discussed it my instinct has argued with my heart, telling it that this will probably never work; it's impractical, improbable, and altogether un-American. The latter may be correct, but I don't know that the former statements are. My thoughts have gone to progress. Personal progress. What about my house, my things, my family. One of the individuals discussing the topic said "You know, if we don't all actually live in the same house together we should at least live near each other," to which another fervently responded "Don't give me "if"! I don't want your "if". This is something I legitimately want to work for. I want nothing more than this." It was my friend Josiah. As the day progressed, Josiah said a number of remarkable things that started to chip away at my concept of the future (which has been a bit wishy washy as of late) of my life. Things like "I just don't really like having a lot of stuff. That's why I buy videogame systems, play through all the games I want to on them, then sell them to other people to make back most of the money. I don't like to just have them sitting." All this while I'm pawing through collectible trinkets which serve no actual function in a thrift store that seemed after that utterance more like a junk emporium than anything. He also said to my girlfriend "I don't think I'd be happier living anywhere than wherever you and your family are." Or something along those lines. He's been close with them for a long, long time, and is by all rights a member of their family anyway. But when he said that, something in my snapped into place.
In my formative teenage years I was not very close with my family. I could argue that I never have been, but I don't want to overstate my disconnection. Still, it is safe and not an overstatement to say that I spent most of my teenage years fantasizing about how I would graduate from high school and move somewhere far away and never speak to anyone in my immediate family ever again – at least my father and mother. This has changed drastically since then, and my relationships with my brother (with whom I never really had a falling-out), mother, and father have all dramatically improved. However, with the exception of my brother, there is this odd sense of estrangement that still lingers – the sense of familial obligation is there, but the feeling of origin is lacking if not altogether lost. And so, because in my teenage planning years I viewed myself as a completely independent being, I have continued to think this way. And then I considered my best friends. And all of a sudden one of them was telling me that he would be happiest nowhere else than with that group of people – with me. And I agreed with him. Which got me wondering: when did I ever not agree with him? At what point in my life did someone tell me that I had to be that independent? At what point did it become “unhealthy” in my mind for all of the members of a family unit to live in close proximity to each other if not with each other entirely? At what point did I start wanting to seclude myself and push others away, and at what point did I desire anything more than to be with the people I love continuously and without interruption by means of location? How could I want anything more. And so, I fantasize about my ideal environment. This is my new desire, my new goal, my new list of wants and needs in life, replacing an Amazon.com wish-list of iPods and LCD Televisions and countless hours of seclusion. I want to live with those I love. I want to do things with them regularly that, without them around, would be simply necessities – chores. I want to grocery shop with them. I want to cook things with them, and when we're finished cooking to sit down to the accomplishment of a delicious meal – to share the experience of it with them, and afterwards to sip from a glass or a cup or a mug of whatever is handy and to listen to them talk about anything and everything and contribute what I can to stoking the conversation. I want to create with them; to make physical and visible and audible and tangible the complex and difficult concepts of our perceptions of the world around us. I want to make sense of things with them, and when things don't make sense to pound out meanings with them. I want to worship the God I love with them – to experience His grace and hope and love and gifts with them. And yes, I want to take in the unimportant things. I'd like the flat-screen TV to be in the home theater we've built for ourselves. I'd like the expensive instruments and the temperature controlled room. I'd like to stay up late having father-son videogame tournaments among families, and to have things. But I don't really need these “things”. I recognize that easily and immediately. What interests me is that I'm not so sure that I don't need these people, and I'm not so sure that I would be as happy living anywhere else than right where they are. I agree with Josiah.
When everyone's your favorite person, you don't really like anybody, now, do you?
Sorry for the lack of updates all, I've been hard at work on the new band I'm heading up, the Aches & Pains [www.myspace.com/aches] and working on a novel that I'm trying to finish up by the end of November, all while working near 40 hours a week and taking three online classes.
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