A friend of mine called today to tell me how things were going. She’s out in Colorado, among the mountains, learning how to be a missionary. Apparently, the class is half over already, and she evoked surprise at how quickly it had passed.
The conversation was choppy, however, because she is a person who is fond of speaking and I am a person who can go whole weeks without saying words. Beyond that, though, I was dumbfounded at how peaceful and sure of herself she seemed. She spoke of her roommates and how well they got along. She spoke of her recent trips to Boulder in search of good sushi. She spoke of her new nose ring.
And after each story, I said, “Wow, cool” with the disinterested blandness of a person who does not care. At least, that is how I imagined it sounded. The truth is different, however. I was and still am very much interested in how things are going and what she plans to do next. But, as I said, I am not fond of speaking. Words flow like spring rain when I’m writing but when I speak they flow like water in the desert.
That’s a fancy way of saying I don’t like to talk much.
Still, I was excited to hear what is going on. In particular, I was fond of her words regarding the status of her life in general. They were good words and I will share them with you now.
“I feel like my life is beginning,” she said. “I’m 26 and right now I feel like my life is beginning.”
That’s a profound thing, I think. Most people, myself included, rarely feel as though they are in the right place doing the right thing at the right moment. Most people, I think, float from situation to situation in search of either the epitome of selfish entertainment or some greater meaning or purpose to the mundane aspects of life. That’s how I feel, anyway; especially when I’m in line at McDonalds. I look at the health info on the back of the Double Quarter Pounder (with cheese!) and I say to myself, “What am I doing here! Dear God what am I doing here.”
Then I eat the burger anyway. Because McDonalds burgers taste so good.
Her statement above was part of a greater conversation about how she has always been dualistic in her approach to considering missionary work. She was cautious, she said, which I took to mean that she had questioned her calling several times over in search of false motivations and extenuating circumstances. Her other side, what I like to call the fun side, was full of reckless abandon. It was the side that said “Fuck it! Let’s go! Let’s go right now!”
That was actually my fun side. Her fun side would probably have abstained from profanity. The sentiment is the same, though, and when she told me of this felling, I wanted to say, “Yes, I feel exactly the same way. At times I feel like I know what I want to do and all that is stopping me from doing that thing is my job and my bills; both of which I hate. So what’s stopping me? Drop the (*censor*) and let’s get moving!”
Then the boring side of me says, “But you can’t drop your life. If you don’t pay your bills, your car will get repossessed. If you don’t go to work, your boss will fire you. Then what will you be? Broke, bored, and useless.”
Nevermind that I’m already broke, bored, and useless.
So I wanted to tell her that I admire what she is doing. I admire the courage it takes to drop everything and do that one thing you know you’re supposed to do. I admire her ability to look at the instability inherent in such a life, the lack of a plan or a fallback position should her current situation change. I admire the heart she has for her upcoming trips to help out with AIDS orphanages in South Africa. I admire the faith it takes to say, “Yeah! Let’s go!”
All I said, though, was “Cool.” I hope she understood.