I didn’t feel the long lost, lonely love for some place I could never live. I didn’t feel the fear of its overwhelming presence, either. I didn’t feel dislike, and I didn’t feel romance for the city. When I returned home, I didn’t feel a washing over of relief to be back in this town. I wasn’t bothered by all of its problem drivers, pollen, heat and suburban sameness, either. I was elated to see my son. I was delighted to see my dog. I have trouble living in peace and quiet and don’t look forward at all to the day my dog dies and my son grows up (but, to be clear, I deeply desire him to live a long and fruitful life). I need the chatter of the kids’ television shows and my son’s shrieks of delight and frustration. I need the dog’s constant and insistent whining and growling for food and attention.
I won’t fall in love with my next job, but I will do my best not to fall into hate for it. I get so caught up in trying to have the perfect job and do things perfectly my way, that I can be pretty resentful of any suggestions from anyone to do it any other way. Most of the time I am completely correct in my assessments, and of course, I should be put in charge of everything so that it runs optimally, but most everyone doesn’t seem to see this.
It is hard to fall in love with the things of this world the way that some people do. I fell in love with Jesus, but I soon got sick of all of his followers on the right and the left. They were clamoring for attention to show that they were the most Christlike, and not bothering to love each other and love God’s children. I ended up falling in love with the the texts and the ideas that the Bible inspired and all of the history behind it, but I just couldn’t bring myself to fall in love with being a preacher. Being a preacher for many wasn’t any different than being an executive at a tech startup. The trappings, the title, the attention paid, the unquestioned role of the leader were all more important than the act of following Jesus.
I would have gone on to become one of those super cynical professors who was so verbally slick in always sliding out of any corner of logic or rhetoric, but had forgotten who Jesus was and why Christ bothered to show up at all. Some were so bitter with their life choices at becoming PhDs of Bible history that they seemed to be in a constant state of irony about their chosen areas of study. The younger students loved all of this cynicism and irony and never landing too firm and hard in a belief about anything, and they loved the token diversity professors who were in love with themselves and their exulted statuses and the way the students worshiped and feared them.
I had to walk on.
Getting back into the corporate office grind was no picnic. Imagine the culture shock of inserting yourself into a hip, downtown Austin office after years in Waco, years being a stay-at-home dad, and a year at seminary. The things that those people valued were base, material, ephemeral and they were things I thought I’d long since gotten past loving. There was no political correctness here. I was a fumbly, doddery old man in a world where men and women my age were all in management or hidden in houses, buried in freelance work or living on disability, or simply doing nothing at all. Most of my coworkers were between the ages of 25 and 34, and I would have killed to have been able to work in this time and place when I was those ages. I would have eaten up downtown Austin like a fiend, but it was nothing like it is now when I was those ages and I was nothing like I am now, either.
Now, I am reasonable, but I am not rigid. I am full of a sense of freedom but the sense of immortality has long passed me by. I have a strong sense of duty concerning raising my son a certain way, but the way is pretty open to interpretation every single day. I am looking forward to living out the next ten years instead of looking forward to what comes after or looking back at what came before this. I am boring, for sure. I am not cool or relevant, but then again, I only was cool and relevant in my own damn head for a brief period of time.