Underneath my expectation that I am moving toward a specific, exulted state of being (which has never gotten me anywhere), there is a sense of things just going on as they go on.
Am I getting better, or am I just removing crap that got piled upon me, by me and others, during years when I thought I needed the crap?
What material things do I need?
I don’t need books. I don’t need the books I thought I needed. When we are ready to leave here, I am going to give almost all of my books away. The same with all of the art stuff. I love art, but I need to stop pretending that I will be an artist one day.
The public library and local college libraries, plus all of the interloan options online, can net me just about any single book I would ever want to read. And almost all the books I own should have remained public books.
With the books gone, this leaves me with almost nothing that I exclusively call my own–mostly, just the papers and photos that belonged to my mom and my own papers.
I have to keep running, writing and reading. I have to keep my brain and body active. I have to get back into helping others.
I am sitting here on the cusp of beginning a totally new thing, and it feels maddening, like it couldn’t get here soon enough. I can just feel myself getting older, day by day, with the idyllic life still just out of my reach. I know that I shouldn’t spend a lot of time in that state of mind where the idyllic life is somewhere else and somewhen else–the idyllic life should be the here and now, every second of being alive and healthy should be an expression of gratitude.
But, I am also keenly aware of just how easily the years can slip by if you sit around doing nothing, just taking life as it comes.
I desperately want A to find a new job here, not just so that our finances don’t feel so threatened, but also so that we can have a more stable form of insurance, and have another child. I know that if this isn’t God’s will, it simply won’t happen, but I really do hope that it is His will. I want us to have two young children when I leave seminary, and have the option of living in many different parts of the country. As I get older, the thought of living in a Midwestern college town becomes more appealing than going and living in NYC or SF or Chicago–big, bustling cities full of young people still caught up in trying to prove themselves and pushing hard everywhere they go is no longer the ideal.
I know that it will happen, but it does feel like time is running out, both with me and my aging as well as the kind of world we are living in, where one of the major political parties has completely dropped off the deep end of reality into this territory of being so markedly out of touch–the kind of territory that bred the Bolsheviks and the Nazis. It is not very useful to make direct Nazi comparisons, and I don’t think a Trump America would be exactly the same as a Hitler Germany, but it is certainly fair to say that the large groups of people who dropped out of touch with the greater reality of history and the rest of the world gave those countries the ecosystems to allow someone like the Bolsheviks and Nazis, who would be minor fringe elements in robust, well-informed democracies, to rise up and hold power for a dangerously long time.
All of this is to say that I don’t think the kind of stability I enjoyed during my childhood and early adult years is going to be around that much longer. I hope that I am wrong, but I am pretty sure that my grandkids will be experiencing a very different world than the one I knew, which was more or less about the same as this current one and the one most middle and upper-middle class white kids have known post WWII. I am not talking about a world that has changed to give more freedoms and freedom of expression to minorities, women and LGBTQ people. I am talking about a world that has changed to enable large groups of people to become entrenched in very different realities that don’t seem to be remotely close to each other. It’s really the people that are saying America is no longer great who scare me–the folks who hang on every word that Alex Jones says–these people have access to the same benefits I do, and are generally not very poorly off, but they are completely convinced that a NWO government is right around the corner and will likely be the ones who help speed up its arrival by way of their self-fulfilling prophecies.
Other people who scare me, or to be more general about the kinds of people who scare me–anyone who clamors for a revolution, a complete wipe of the way things are in favor of something new, where new is inevitably better just because it is some poorly thought out utopia in their own heads. The mindset of the younger generations, including my own, scares me. It is a mindset of not really caring much at all about what happens in Washington, except during a general election year, where they thing that one man or woman will be able to fix everything. It is a mindset that doesn’t want to think about the hard work of having a democracy, and just wants to believe that their are simple, silver bullet or magical solutions to problems that don’t cost us much of anything. This shows up on both sides of the political spectrum. Everyone has a panacea, be it a particular candidate or an ideology.
I want to just be a normal, average person, living a quiet life in a normal, average American town. I want to raise two kids, help a few folks, preach a few sermons and then retire to live another ten to fifteen years and travel a bit before settling down to die around the age of 85. At this age, L should have some kids of his own. If he doesn’t take as long as I did to get started, then his oldest kid might even be around fifteen when I die.
I suppose if I am really lucky, and the world remains a nice place for a bit longer–I’m talking about my corner of the world which is mostly nice–nicer than not, anyway–then, I might live to be close to a hundred and see a great-grandkid, but I am not counting on it.
Worst case scenario is, I am dead at 61 like my mom and grandmother from cancer, and L and his younger sibling are in college and high school. Hopefully, a little bit of my retirement and some life insurance will get them through the rest of their college years to see some remaining opportunities in this world before everything turns to shit. I can’t predict the future. I haven’t been given the gift of prophecy, yet. I am generally pessimistic about the future, but withhold some small amount of optimism as part of my faith that God will unfold a future that looks nothing like anyone today predicts it will be. After all, not too many people figured the world would still be in as good a shape as it is after WWII and the bomb and then AIDS. Somehow, people still got by.