Thursday, November 02, 2006

Contrast and balance? Or more of the same?

Life is funny. Or rather people are. Or maybe it's just me.

I tend - if it's somehow escaped your notice - toward extremes. I used to believe that I was very unique. That nobody else shared my love of books or would rather spend time alone than be surrounded by many people. I was the only one who didn't love movies. There couldn't be another academic who sometimes worked from home while watching reruns on TNT. Everybody loved ice cream except me. I was special, after all. Nearly incomprehensible in my complexity and intelligence and very uniqueness.

I now believe - still naïvely but in a different direction - that we're all pretty similar. People read what I write because it's somehow relevant at some point. They either relate or know someone who might. We're all worried about the future. Obsess over our purpose and the time devoted to achieving a goal that might not end up being pleasant. Love has hurt everyone at some point. Moments of fear and confusion aren't uncommon. If we share so many qualities, perhaps in understanding someone else better - reading blogs, having conversations, thinking so hard about entries that end up on this page, there's the hope that peering into the psyche of another will reflect something helpful about myself.

I mentioned that when my parents were here, we went to a park. Drove and drove while I stared out the window and marveled at the beauty I don't seek or notice within my normal routine. I traveled east to take pictures and hike and sigh over how gorgeous everything was. But it turns out there's beauty much closer to home. Pictures to be taken, trails to be hiked, breath to release in awe because I'm really looking.

I'm very comfortable with my parents. Yes, I grit my teeth when Dad's an ass. And sometimes I make snippy comments when Mom's a bit critical. But I'm content when they're around. Safe and loved and warm. Which is how family has always felt to me.

So we can stay around the house. Watch television and talk. Cook or decide what needs to be fixed or changed so that we can plan a trip to Lowes. But we can also go explore. I'm happy to settle in the backseat and ride along, looking around and trusting that Dad will find his way back to my house eventually. We'll probably argue, and we'll definitely laugh. It's likely that we'll find something to eat, and we generally find something worth seeing. But I'm relaxed - speaking without censoring my thoughts, telling stories as they come to mind, asking questions when listening to new information, nodding along when redundant tales are offered.

I think my point here - other than 'look at the pretty pictures!' - is that it's easier for me to look around when I'm most comfortable with what's already in my head. My discontent with my current environment isn't due to the actual place. The photos are conclusive proof that it is - or can be - rather exquisite here.

I'm well aware the problem is me, though that's not always the case or should be considered in other people's situations. For me - for right now - I can't get things straight in my head. And while the urge to move - to quit - is strong (and I'm yielding to it by running away this weekend to head north), I'm still me. There's still some messiness in my head that makes me unhappy. I don't know what I want, which makes much of anything difficult to obtain. So I get stuck thinking about the ugly parts too often, which closes me off to the pretty pieces. I'm working on fixing that - focusing on what I like, my strengths, what makes me happy.

There's a line in The Screwtape Letters that Screwtape relates to his fellow fiend. He tells of one of his patients who said, upon arriving in Hell, something like "I spent most of my life doing neither what I ought, nor what I liked." There's power in that statement - I've been thinking of it for quite some time now. Trying to consider how I spend my minutes and hours and relating that to what I should be doing (and why I feel I should be doing it) or how much I like spending my time in that particular way.
Part of it, I think, is balance. In an attempt to be mature, I'll say that I'm neither completely unique or completely average. Part of noticing beautiful scenery could be that it's out of the ordinary. I want to take pictures because I can't walk outside to see those same hills and streams. Instead I see a nice lake (if I'm walking in the right direction) and lots of houses. Part of attempting goodness is acknowledging some bad impulses. The ability for me to work hard and be semi-productive is related to how much time I allow for rest and fun. Those leaves of red, yellow and orange seem more special somehow when they're mixed with a background of green. The contrast is important.

So maybe this is the down time. The part where I see what wrong feels like - determine how to make something work in spite of those feelings. Then when things get better - and I do believe that there are very, very good moments in my future - they'll feel even more right. Or maybe I worked from home again and didn't accomplish very much for yet another day and there is no reason. In that case, maybe you should just look at the pretty pictures again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i often forget to look around when i am so determined in getting somewhere, or when i get too used to a place.

and down time is very important, we can't be "productive" everyday.

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