There have been a few days recently where I believe my greatest and most exciting achievement was simply getting out of bed. From that point forward, it was pretty humdrum. Very little was accomplished, and certainly no great matter of lasting significance was either confronted or resolved. Nothing happened. And I am quickly discouraged. Just WHAT I am discouraged from is somewhat of a mystery, but it exists nevertheless. I guess I'm seriously hoping a comet will hit the earth or a volcano erupts nearby.
I, perhaps more than most, have a misconstrued notion of what should transpire on any given day. Books, movies, and our imaginations fixate on events or moments of excitation. Like all good stories, they consist of a smattering of turning points, decisions and conclusions. For us, they become the framework for our memories. We don’t remember anything if nothing happened. Thus, a day when nothing happened will be, at least for me, quickly forgotten. But the next question is if this suggests that a slow day is wrong or somehow a waste. Many would argue it is not at all.
I have friends who, currently swamped with work, schooling and sundry other projects, would give at least one limb for a slow day, a chance to sleep late, catch up on a good book, or even just watch cartoons and eat a salad bowl full of cereal. To them, a day such as this would be quite memorable. Their routine busyness can be just as forgettable and seemingly vapid as how I perceive an empty day. I suppose it all depends on perspective.
Yet contrary to nearly every enjoyable story in any format or media, life isn’t a constant inundation of excitement, entertainment, or even adventure. In fact, pursuit of this lifestyle will be one riddled with brief highs and replete with lingering monotony. Even running away and joining the circus, however new and fun it may be at first, will soon evolve to any other job: it’s just what you every day. You work in the circus. My point: pursuing adventure and avoiding the quiet days is attempting to satisfy a lust for adventure that will only ask more of you. It is like a drug. Eventually you simply cannot get enough of it and need to move on to something else.
Real life, whatever that may precisely be (and I hesitate to define it here), will not be an endless profusion of highly memorable events. Sure, there will be milestones, but we neither live for their achievement nor dwell on them incessantly as they pass us by. They’re just part of life. REAL living is a path, and at times a rather dull one. The scenery along the path can be quite mundane, or even totally nonexistent. There will be long, boring straight sections when we wonder if there’s even a path at all. There is, but we just can’t see it. But we should keep at it rather than taking a hard turn and pursuing an intangible “anything” that’s better than the drudgery of the one we’re currently exploring. To be vaguely philosophical, we’re on this one for a reason.
Pursuit of constant entertainment, or calamity, or commotion is, in and of itself, dysfunctional. It’s not how real life works. Those caught up in it yearn for peace, yet those who aren’t experiencing it presently eagerly desire it. But just as monotony produces nothing memorable, perpetual commotion will quickly fade as well. In the end, it only keeps us thrill-seeking.
All the same, I continue to begrudge that my days are slow, for a number of reasons. I have relied heavily upon a barrage of fortunes and misfortunes to entertain me, give me something to think about, and serve as fuel for further writing. However, pursuing this indefinitely will keep me forever restless, which I do not wish. There is something to be found in the quiet days; I just need to be more receptive to it. I am afforded time alone to think, to know myself, and grow comfortable in the knowledge that on some days and at some hours, this path will have no other travelers but me and God. We should talk while I’m here. I still have much to learn. And when we do come upon something exciting, it will be all the more memorable.
Copyright © 2009, Ben Shaw
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